A colorful, tenderly told story for youngsters with vivid imaginations.



An imaginative boy discovers a door to a fantastical realm in this middle-grade adventure.

Eleven-year-old Hunter Wilson is obsessed with finding monsters. He looks for them under his bed and anywhere else he can conceive of them hiding. One day, he attends a field trip to a nearby pond with his classmates, including his best friend Gert Clemmons. They’re planning to collect jars of pond water to later examine under microscopes. A forest is close by, however, and Hunter can’t resist exploring it. He stumbles upon a large tree with a cavity filled with glowing mushrooms, which he enters; he then encounters tiny people who seem frightened of him and pelt him with acorns. When he emerges from the tree at last, he finds himself in a completely different forest. Among the strange trees there, he finds a talking raven who tells him the tale of the King of Monsters. Hunter then meets a gigantic dog whom he names Murphy; together, they find a machine that resembles a “black, gleaming moon” above the forest canopy that’s destroying trees. Elsewhere, the Puzzle Piece Man is well aware of Hunter’s progress and certain the boy will go even further. Genzano’s fantasy is a surreal, unpredictable narrative in the tradition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that precocious readers will enjoy. This volume lays potential groundwork for future installments with details such as Hunter’s favorite book, The Yellow Castle, Volume One: Shadow Tower, as well as snippets of characters in other realms noticing Hunter leave his own woods. The prose evokes a sense of discovery and magic, as in a description of a tree covered in “soft, furry, chestnut-colored growths” that “wagged sometimes in rippling sequence.” The story unfolds in sometimes-lengthy paragraphs that may challenge some middle-grade audiences.

A colorful, tenderly told story for youngsters with vivid imaginations.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2020

ISBN: 979-8-56-121399-1

Page Count: 89

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Dizzyingly silly.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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