Likely to be read once at most; still, a handsomely designed offshoot from the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

THE ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

From the Fantastic Beasts series , Vol. 2

The ruthless Grindelwald escapes to recruit more followers—one in particular—to his genocidal cause.

More a collectible spinoff than a fleshed-out story, the volume frames 120 quick-cut scenes of sparse dialogue and staging directions within swirling art nouveau–style borders, with plenty of similarly elegant spot art featuring occasional small images of magical creatures but no human figures. There are no stills from the 2018 film either, though director David Yates chimes in with a fluffy foreword, and the backmatter includes a vocabulary of staging abbreviations and partial cast and crew lists. The storyline, sketchy as it is in this form, picks up where the previous episode left off—readers will definitely need to have the established characters and events fresh in their minds to keep pace—and, after various side trips, gathers the ensemble (including token Muggle Jacob Kowalski) in Paris for a climactic dust-up beneath Père Lachaise cemetery. As usual in the Potterverse, agendas nearly always turn on family relations or class, so aside from a glancing reference to Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore’s being “closer than brothers” in their youths, the main developments here center on the star-crossed Muggle/magical romance of Jacob and Queenie and the (supposed) ancestry of powerful but ominously impressionable Credence Barebone. Stay, as the saying goes, tuned.

Likely to be read once at most; still, a handsomely designed offshoot from the Fantastic Beasts franchise. (Fantasy. 10-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-26389-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

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

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

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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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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