Busy—but exciting action and a likable character make up for it.

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THE STORM RUNNER

From the Storm Runners series , Vol. 1

A chosen-one adventure through the Southwest.

Zane’s backyard in New Mexico is unique—it has its own volcano. He lives with his mom and their dog, Rosie, and his biggest problem is having to start a new school…until he makes a huge mistake and sets loose ancient Maya god Ah-Puch, also known as the Stinking One. A mysterious girl named Brooks appears at Zane’s school and then at home, and she reveals to Zane that she is a nawal, or shape-shifter, and she’s there to help him fulfill his destiny in a great prophecy. And so begins a race against time as Zane, Brooks, and a growing band of sidekicks race across the Southwest to find Ah-Puch, learn who Zane’s estranged father is, and save the world. As readers accustomed to Rick Riordan’s books will expect, additional Maya gods and magical creatures are revealed along the way. Unevenly paced and complicated by gods with two or three monikers, this second in Riordan’s eponymous imprint may frustrate close readers, but the high stakes will grab kids who just want to turn pages as quickly as possible. Zane is Mexican-American; his limb disability turns out to have a magical origin (not unlike Percy Jackson’s dyslexia), which may well feel like a cheat for readers with disabilities themselves. Nevertheless, Zane’s incredibly appealing kid voice and wry internal interjections make him easy to root for.

Busy—but exciting action and a likable character make up for it. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-01634-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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