While undeniably goofy and action-packed, this probably won’t gain fans among Egyptians or overweight people.



From the Spy Next Door series , Vol. 2

Third-grade spy Dexter Drabner from Mutant Rat Attack! (2017) returns for another wacky adventure.

A call on his AI skateboard (Battery-Operated Artificial Reasoning Device) from Big K, the head of their city’s chapter of the Super-Secret Spy Kids, summons Dex, Agent SK8, for a mission. But his high-tech (and also stinky) journey to the secret hideout is seen by abrasive new girl Aya (a black girl who provides some diversity to the largely white cast). A burglar has been sniffing around the mummy exhibit, and while on his class field trip, Dex is to try to learn why. The exhibit features the pharaoh Hun-Ga-Re, of the fictional Bur-Pe region of Egypt, famous for—as his name suggests—his appetite. His mummy holds a sandwich, and his sarcophagus a curse: “This hoagie can raise the dead! HANDS OFF!” After Dex catches Aya going for the mummy’s sandwich, robot ninjas commanded by the real villain appear and the fight wakes Hun-Ga-Re. Using nail polish, Aya transforms into the Pink Lynx, and the slapstick conflict escalates in a series of comic-strip panels with the action described play by play as if it were a football game. The silliness turns mean when, at the climax, Hun-Ga-Re spots fellow fat person/school bully Millicent wrapped in toilet paper, falls in love, and raises the dead against the villains to protect her.

While undeniably goofy and action-packed, this probably won’t gain fans among Egyptians or overweight people. (glossary) (Adventure. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-93298-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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


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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Thought-provoking and charming.

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A sophisticated robot—with the capacity to use senses of sight, hearing, and smell—is washed to shore on an island, the only robot survivor of a cargo of 500.

When otters play with her protective packaging, the robot is accidently activated. Roz, though without emotions, is intelligent and versatile. She can observe and learn in service of both her survival and her principle function: to help. Brown links these basic functions to the kind of evolution Roz undergoes as she figures out how to stay dry and intact in her wild environment—not easy, with pine cones and poop dropping from above, stormy weather, and a family of cranky bears. She learns to understand and eventually speak the language of the wild creatures (each species with its different “accent”). An accident leaves her the sole protector of a baby goose, and Roz must ask other creatures for help to shelter and feed the gosling. Roz’s growing connection with her environment is sweetly funny, reminiscent of Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family. At every moment Roz’s actions seem plausible and logical yet surprisingly full of something like feeling. Robot hunters with guns figure into the climax of the story as the outside world intrudes. While the end to Roz’s benign and wild life is startling and violent, Brown leaves Roz and her companions—and readers—with hope.

Thought-provoking and charming. (Science fiction/fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38199-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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