For readers thirsting for a fresh survival story.


Brothers undertake a desperate desert journey during a long-term power outage.

While their preparation-obsessed father’s out of state on a business trip, leaving 13-year-old John and 11-year-old Stew under the loose supervision of their neighbors, a complete blackout hits. Days pass and it doesn’t let up; what little news they hear implies a massive scale. In the opening sequence, readers meet the brothers as they lower themselves to collecting toilet water to drink, as they were recently robbed of their father’s entire (extensive) supply stash. They encounter a sister-brother duo, Cleverly and Will, and—even though John knows that they barely have the supplies to make the three-day, 96-mile titular journey to salvation—the brothers decide allowing the other kids to join is what is right to do. Along the journey, they face general hardships of desert hiking with insufficient water as well as human threats. Thankfully, these latter are given conflicting motives, which increases tension. Another conflict source is Stew’s defeatist behavior, which is at odds with John’s descriptions of him—and, in a twist, is revealed to have a very good cause. The story focuses on the themes of the kids’ journey, and while the ending provides hope, readers looking for answers to the blackout will be disappointed. The characters default to white, though there’s disability representation in the form of characters with Type I diabetes.

For readers thirsting for a fresh survival story. (Adventure. 8-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-19230-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun


From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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