Thin soup compared to a conventional prose narrative—but enough to carry readers along and to give them at least a sense of...



From the Fantastic Beasts series , Vol. 1

A handsomely packaged version of the dialogue and staging directions for the recently released film.

Rowling has expanded her slim 2001 Harry Potter spinoff into a multiepisode storyline, and this is the first. Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in 1926 New York with a bag—much larger inside than out—full of rare creatures. In short order, he not only allows several of them to escape, but falls afoul of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (the local equivalent of the Ministry of Magic). Mad escapades ensue, featuring wizardly duels and encounters with all sorts of exotic fauna from Occamies to Bowtruckles. The script presented here sticks closely to the screen version, but both the printed lines and the italicized stage directions add nuance and details that may elude even close viewers of the movie. Newt’s walk, for instance, is described at the outset as conveying “an unselfconscious Keatonesque quality,” and a later comment that “Occamies are choranaptyxic” invites more pondering than the live action allows. Also, rather than using images from the film, Rowling’s rare and sketchy line drawings in the original edition have been replaced here with decorative swashes on every page and stylized animal forms, all done in elegantly calligraphic pen strokes. A glossary of film terms and partial lists of the film cast and crew are appended.

Thin soup compared to a conventional prose narrative—but enough to carry readers along and to give them at least a sense of the characters and their milieu. (Fantasy script. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-338-10906-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

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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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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.


The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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