A worthy title that deserves a spot on the fantasy shelves.

READ REVIEW

WUNDERSMITH

THE CALLING OF MORRIGAN CROW

From the Nevermoor series , Vol. 2

The tests are over; now it’s time to get down to business.

Morrigan Crow returns in this thrilling second installment of the Nevermoor series. Townsend picks up almost immediately where she left off and introduces readers to Morrigan’s fellow scholars in Unit 919, a group of nine students who made it through the trials and tribulations of the first book. Although skin tone is not discussed, the group is implied to be ethnically diverse based on naming convention. Equally diverse are the talents, or “knacks,” of these individuals, ranging from the previously introduced Cadence’s mesmerism to Lambeth's "short-range orac[ular]" powers. This motley group must come together as one while learning all they can as members of the Wundrous Society. Morrigan (who presents white) is also tasked with attempting to control her Wundersmith abilities while learning about the (potentially dubious) history of past Wundersmiths. Townsend’s sophomore endeavor once again fully immerses her readers in a world that intermixes the magic of the Emerald City with Howl’s pithiness, Percy Jackson’s humor, Coraline’s darkness, and perhaps a dash of the depravity of Katniss’ District One. Fantasy fans will not be disappointed. Savvy readers will appreciate how the themes of otherness, group privilege, prejudice, and activism are masterfully interwoven into the overall plot. The only sad spot in an otherwise enjoyable text is the hanging question: How long until Book 3 comes out?

A worthy title that deserves a spot on the fantasy shelves. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-50891-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.

ALI CROSS

The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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