Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


A brave, winsome hero leads an action-packed, satisfying finale.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A girl joins the war against evil wizards threatening a magical world in this conclusion to a middle-grade fantasy series.

One day, Alex suddenly found herself in a world of Latin, mathematics, and magic. Since then, she’s made many friends, some of whom she’s sadly lost in the fight against sinister Master Wizards Diades and Demetrius. Power-hungry Diades, in particular, wants to enslave people and kill anyone who defies him. Alex and her winged ally, Daedalus, infiltrate the evil wizards’ Black Castle to steal back her calculator, a device capable of releasing magic spells. Meanwhile, King Nosaj leads people on an arduous trek through the mountains to the Black Castle. This puts everyone, including the world’s Guardians, in danger from avalanches and unbearable fatigue. While more of Alex’s comrades fall in battle, she reunites with a friend she believed had perished as well as one of Diades’ now-liberated captives. Some are certain Alex is the “missing variable” who will help save this realm, though even she doesn’t know how she’ll do it—or how she’ll return to her own world. As in the preceding installments, this fourth and final novel boasts an entertaining narrative populated by Greek historical figures like Aristotle. West’s story begins at full-tilt, with characters either heading into battle or bracing themselves for the inevitable confrontation. Accordingly, knowledge of the earlier books is a necessity. Recurring protagonist Alex is valiant though prone to feelings of guilt over others’ deaths, even when she’s not at fault. She and the rest of the cast populate vivid, concisely written action scenes: “The intense heat of a fireball scorched the air around them, burning their already stinging eyes and searing their lungs as they sobbed.” While the ending battle delivers surprises, the denouement is predictable, albeit gratifying.

A brave, winsome hero leads an action-packed, satisfying finale. (Latin translations, author bio)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2020

ISBN: 979-8-69-179094-2

Page Count: 267

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021


From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

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 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Close Quickview