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


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

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


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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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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