Action-packed and entertaining.

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THE SHADOW CROSSER

From the Storm Runners series , Vol. 3

Zane’s crew of godborns grows—just in time for all their parents to go missing…in 1987.

In this third series entry, readers are reintroduced to Mexican American, half-human/half-god Zane Obispo, son of the Maya god Hurakan. Zane’s in search of the last godborn so he can bring all 64 of them together for training at the Shaman Institute of Higher-Order Magic. But this number actually turns out to be 65 when he meets twins Adrik and Alana. They are rightly suspicious of Zane’s wild tale until they are faced with Ixtab, queen of the underworld, and sentient calendar K’iin and find out most of the gods have been kidnapped and sent away to the past. Now it’s up to the godborns to save them. Time travel isn’t easy, though: It requires a shadow crosser, or magician, to hold the time thread and ensure that the travelers have a link back to the present—and that person faces suffering permanent brain damage. Maya gods are nothing if not dramatic. As in the previous two volumes, the plot is busy and frantic, though the engaging prose and humanlike, melodramatic gods are fun to meet again, and the glossary may help readers keep track of which god is which. The plot may give readers whiplash, but if all three volumes are read in quick succession, they will likely have an easier time keeping track of the twists and turns.

Action-packed and entertaining. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-05277-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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