A tedious, confusing setup for Book 3. Disappointing.


From the Rose Legacy series , Vol. 2

The second book in the Rose Legacy series presents new challenges for human Anthea and stallion Florian (and readers too).

Anthea, her uncle Andrew, cousin Jilly, and others at Last Farm are now—along with their horses (with whom they communicate telepathically)—working for the Crown of Coronam as messengers. It’s part of a campaign by Queen Josephine to get the rest of the kingdom (king included) past the idea, rooted in legend, that horses brought a terrible plague to Coronam ages ago and so are to be feared and exterminated. Suffering terribly from middle-book syndrome, this story throws out bits of plot, eschewing character development, congruity, and even, at times, plausibility. The one comprehensible thread is that there’s a contagious disease spreading around the countryside, and people are beginning to blame the horses again. An all-woman team of scientists arrives at Last Farm to work on finding a cure. (Despite this gesture, gender stereotypes persist: Jilly is tediously interested in form-fitted clothes, and Anthea sees tears as a weakness.) There are twinges of war rumors with a not-nice country called Kronenhofer, some unsubtle nudges regarding Anthea’s traitor of a mother, and a plodding subplot about how Anthea’s friend Finn is the rightful king. Settings are numerous and interchangeable (as are most of the characters), and the saccharine “Beloved”-bestrewn telepathic addresses between Anthea and Florian have definitely reached the eye-roll stage.

A tedious, confusing setup for Book 3. Disappointing. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0089-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.


The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?