This series finale reads like a whirlwind.

CURSED

From the Fairy Tale Reform School series , Vol. 6

Gilly Cobbler and her friends from Fairy Tale Reform School must prevent the villainous Rumpelstiltskin from casting a curse that will wipe out all of Enchantasia.

Traveling on Blackbeard’s pirate ship, the group heads to Shipwreck Cove in hopes of finding genie Darlene’s lamp. After a quick battle with the guardian kraken (a misunderstanding), they realize Stiltskin has already beaten them there! The FTRS teachers confirm, via magic mirror, that Gilly and her family are somehow tied to Stiltskin and the curse—a foreboding message, especially since Gilly’s sister Anna now leads the child villains of the Stiltskin Squad. In order to learn about her heritage and hopefully unlock some of her latent fairy powers, Gilly visits her estranged fairy grandmother. But with time running out, will the group save FTRS and their fairy-tale world as they know it? As is appropriate for a series climax, action and drawn-out tension abound. The quickly reached resolution is abrupt, as are the spaces between the near-continuous battles, making for a very bumpy read. If readers have stuck with the series through the other five installments, at least this book will offer both an ending and a peek at more of Gilly’s family. Gilly is white, but her classmates are diverse, both in race and in species.

This series finale reads like a whirlwind. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8016-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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This engaging, heartwarming story does everything one can ask of a book, and then some.

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WHEN STARS ARE SCATTERED

A Somali boy living in a refugee camp in Kenya tries to make a future for himself and his brother in this near memoir interpreted as a graphic novel by collaborator Jamieson.

Omar Mohamed lives in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya with his younger brother, Hassan, who has a seizure disorder, and Fatuma, an elderly woman assigned to foster them in their parents’ absence. The boys’ father was killed in Somalia’s civil war, prompting them to flee on foot when they were separated from their mother. They desperately hope she is still alive and looking for them, as they are for her. The book covers six years, during which Omar struggles with decisions about attending school and how much hope to have about opportunities to resettle in a new land, like the United States. Through Omar’s journey, and those of his friends and family members, readers get a close, powerful view of the trauma and uncertainty that attend life as a refugee as well as the faith, love, and support from unexpected quarters that get people through it. Jamieson’s characteristically endearing art, warmly colored by Geddy, perfectly complements Omar’s story, conjuring memorable and sympathetic characters who will stay with readers long after they close the book. Photographs of the brothers and an afterword provide historical context; Mohamed and Jamieson each contribute an author’s note.

This engaging, heartwarming story does everything one can ask of a book, and then some. (Graphic memoir. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55391-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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