May pique castle envy.

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TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE

From the Castle Glower series , Vol. 1

This enjoyable romp turns mischief into political action and a stone palace into a cunning character.

Castle Glower always chooses its own king, and its current is Celie’s father. Celie’s family knows the castle’s rules—for example, no matter where you are, “if you turned left three times and climbed through the next window, you’d end up in the kitchens”—so they navigate fine, even when Castle Glower gets bored of a Tuesday and grows a new room or hallway. When disaster strikes, the castle’s protective love becomes paramount. Celie’s parents and eldest brother Bran are reported killed in an ambush, leaving three siblings at home to fend off a foreign prince who’s trying to assassinate Celie’s brother Rolf and steal the crown. Pranks such as spreading manure on the soles of shoes and snipping threads so the baddies’ clothes fall off make the siblings (and readers) giggle, but underneath the capers lies a bit of deftly written grief and fear. Luckily there are comforting clues: If King Glower were really dead, wouldn’t this sentient, active castle have adapted heir Rolf’s bedroom into a king’s room? Instead, the foreign prince’s rooms become ever smaller and bleaker, proving the castle’s disapproval; but Celie and sibs still need to win the day. Never fear: These kids are clever, as is George’s lively adventure.

May pique castle envy. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59990-644-7

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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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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Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...

THE LEMONADE CRIME

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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