From the Stuntboy series , Vol. 2

Fun and emotionally perceptive.

Portico “Stuntboy” Reeves, once “the greatest superhero you’ve never ever heard of,” is back—with a super group of friends and new challenges in his life.

Because of his parents’ divorce, Portico had to move from the fourth floor of Skylight Gardens—his beloved apartment building filled to the brim with eclectic neighbors—to both the third and fifth floors. Portico is feeling the toll of the split even in his surreal but revealing dreams. When the elevator breaks down in real life, Portico’s mom trusts that he can make it down to the third floor on his own, but distractions abound. The episodic storytelling with cleverly illustrated asides documents the building’s residents and even takes metanarrative shots at the creators in a charmingly relatable account of an adventurous kid pursuing hijinks with best friend Zola and new friend/former bully Herbert. On the surface, the kids’ art project in an empty eighth floor apartment is the primary source of delay, but savvy readers will eventually notice the signs of avoidance. The in-between time is poignantly where the bulk of this outing takes place and where it packs its biggest punch, as the chasm between drifting parents is easy to get lost in. But with supportive friends, thoughtful (and peculiar) neighbors, some space to express himself, and undeniable heroics, Portico eventually finds his way, even if he only finds what he wants most in his dreams. The cast reads majority Black.

Fun and emotionally perceptive. (additional sketches) (Adventure. 7–12)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9781534418226

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023


The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Close Quickview