Here’s hoping the next installment (Fridays, coming in fall 2015) will recover the series’ early bounce and zip.

READ REVIEW

THURSDAYS WITH THE CROWN

From the Castle Glower series , Vol. 3

Tossed into a faraway land, Celie and company try to figure out how to heal their sentient castle in this third entry to the series.

At the end of Wednesdays in the Tower (2013), the Castle flung 12-year-old Celie, two elder siblings, a couple of friends and Celie’s griffin Rufus into a realm called the Glorious Arkower. Most of the Castle hasn’t come with them, though it was built here. The kids cross a poisoned lake, raid a king’s tomb and survive a forest fire, all the while trying to figure out why the Castle (back at home) has been so upset and erratic lately. They seek historical information, which requires untangling “lies and half-truths” from two angry wizards who bicker and tell contradictory stories. Although there’s plenty of action, all the heavy significance rests on ancient history and exposition, dousing the immediacy of the story. When Celie deciphers a truth or hears a big reveal, the actual information often doesn’t end up mattering: Whichever land this is, whatever the Castle’s and the griffins’ histories may be, clearly both wizards are bad, and goals stay the same. George’s characters and griffins still charm, but readers may miss the vital Castle’s larger presence, and the title is, sadly, purely decorative (there’s no pattern of Thursdays).

Here’s hoping the next installment (Fridays, coming in fall 2015) will recover the series’ early bounce and zip. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61963-299-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE SENSATIONAL SAGA OF SIR STINKS-A-LOT

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 12

Pranksters George and Harold face the deadliest challenge of their checkered careers: a supersmart, superstrong gym teacher.

With the avowed aim of enticing an audience of “grouchy old people” to the Waistband Warrior’s latest exploit, Pilkey promises “references to health care, gardening, Bob Evans restaurants, hard candies, FOX News, and gentle-yet-effective laxatives.” He delivers, too. But lest fans of the Hanes-clad hero fret, he also stirs in plenty of fart jokes, brain-melting puns, and Flip-O-Rama throwdowns. After a meteorite transforms Mr. Meaner into a mad genius (evil, of course, because “as everyone knows, most gym teachers are inherently evil”) and he concocts a brown gas that turns children into blindly obedient homework machines, George and Harold travel into the future to enlist aid from their presumably immune adult selves. Temporarily leaving mates and children (of diverse sexes, both) behind, Old George and Old Harold come to the rescue. But Meaner has a robot suit (of course he has a robot suit), and he not only beats down the oldsters, but is only fazed for a moment when Capt. Underpants himself comes to deliver a kick to the crotch. Fortunately, gym teachers, “like toddlers,” will put anything in their mouths—so an ingestion of soda pop and Mentos at last spells doom, or more accurately: “CHeffGoal-D’BLOOOM!”

Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-50492-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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