Witches never actually step into sight, but their offstage presence adds shivery hints of danger to this lightweight opener.


From the Witches of Benevento series , Vol. 1

Of all the magical residents in an Italian town long renowned for its various sorts of witches, the mischievous Janara may be the most mysterious—and troublesome.

By day disguised as neighbors or even relatives, the Janara become invisible with a spell (plus dabs of magic oil in the armpits) at night and set out to play such tricks as (ugh) feeding through a straw inserted up a sleeper’s nose and down into his or her stomach. Thus, when bossy young Rosa wakes one morning itchy of schnoz and starving, it’s time for her and her considerably less obnoxious twin, Emilio, to seek help. But all their efforts only result in further and more widespread “mischiefs,” until town idler Amerigo Pegleg reluctantly admits that oregano is like catnip to the Janara (and he should know). Shrugging off Rosa’s ill-tempered skepticism, Emilio rubs fistfuls of the herb around house and yard, and peace is soon restored. Loosely based on folklore and decorated with Blackall’s two-color drawings of elfin figures in country dress on nearly every page, the comical tale kicks off a projected series set in the picturesque town. Appendices on spell casting and on Benevento’s witchly history (not seen) will cap each episode. Volume 2, The All-Powerful Ring, publishes simultaneously.

Witches never actually step into sight, but their offstage presence adds shivery hints of danger to this lightweight opener. (town map) (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-451-47181-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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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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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.


After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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