Sweet, charming and imaginative: a promising launch.

NIGHTMARES!

From the Nightmares! series , Vol. 1

Charlie Laird’s nightmares become a reality when he discovers a portal to the Netherworld.

Charlie’s widowed father has recently remarried, and Charlie hates it. He hates his stepmom. He hates that his young brother, Jack, is taken in by her. But most of all he hates the new house his family has moved into, as well as the never-ending stream of nightmares he experiences there every night. An evil witch haunts Charlie’s sleep, threatening to eat him and his brother up. When the witch appears in the real world and snatches Jack away, Charlie follows her into the Netherworld and, with the aid of a gorgon and a few slumbering friends, sets out to save not just his brother, but the Land of Nightmares itself. As a first book in a proposed trilogy, there’s a lot of promise here. The authors set up the supernatural rules of this world with ease, not getting bogged down with exceptions or contradictions. The book succeeds at scaring and amusing in equal measure, with the Nightmares as varied as they are humorous. At the heart of the endeavor is a story of personal growth, one that fits nicely with the spooky doings surrounding it. Best of all, this is a contained story. There’s no cliffhanger, no shoddy lingering threats. Upon completion, readers could set it down and never return to the Netherworld, but this world is so enjoyable and interesting, it’s hard to not anticipate future trips.

Sweet, charming and imaginative: a promising launch. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74425-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

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 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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