Trials, tempests, and triumphs in a still-beguiling Italian country setting.

READ REVIEW

RUNAWAY ROSA

From the Witches of Benevento series

Gender expectations get a tweak with the arrival of a new little sibling for twins Emilio and Rosa.

Following a loud refusal to join the women who have gathered to help Momma through labor, Rosa’s life takes such a turn for the worse—diapers, housework, cooking, ugh—that at last she furiously runs off to live in the trees (till dinnertime). She creates an even bigger stir by insisting on signing up for the formerly boys-only Great Hunt of the Boar, promising her shocked father she’ll return to her despised domestic duties if she loses. (She doesn’t lose.) Meanwhile, Emilio is thrilled by the new arrival (“Is it a boy or a girl?” “Why don’t you look for yourself?”). He just feigns reluctance to take over child care duties after his sister threatens to disclose his secret reading, and he avoids signing up for the hunt himself but coaches Rosa on the best techniques for success. As in earlier episodes, on nearly every page Blackall deftly captures the characters of fiery Rosa, gentle Emilio, and the rest of Benevento’s olive-skinned country cast in her two-color sketches. Also as in most of the earlier volumes, the local supernatural residents remain present but just out of sight…though a closing revelation hints that that may not always be the case.

Trials, tempests, and triumphs in a still-beguiling Italian country setting. (historical and cultural afterwords) (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-29151-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE SENSATIONAL SAGA OF SIR STINKS-A-LOT

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 12

Pranksters George and Harold face the deadliest challenge of their checkered careers: a supersmart, superstrong gym teacher.

With the avowed aim of enticing an audience of “grouchy old people” to the Waistband Warrior’s latest exploit, Pilkey promises “references to health care, gardening, Bob Evans restaurants, hard candies, FOX News, and gentle-yet-effective laxatives.” He delivers, too. But lest fans of the Hanes-clad hero fret, he also stirs in plenty of fart jokes, brain-melting puns, and Flip-O-Rama throwdowns. After a meteorite transforms Mr. Meaner into a mad genius (evil, of course, because “as everyone knows, most gym teachers are inherently evil”) and he concocts a brown gas that turns children into blindly obedient homework machines, George and Harold travel into the future to enlist aid from their presumably immune adult selves. Temporarily leaving mates and children (of diverse sexes, both) behind, Old George and Old Harold come to the rescue. But Meaner has a robot suit (of course he has a robot suit), and he not only beats down the oldsters, but is only fazed for a moment when Capt. Underpants himself comes to deliver a kick to the crotch. Fortunately, gym teachers, “like toddlers,” will put anything in their mouths—so an ingestion of soda pop and Mentos at last spells doom, or more accurately: “CHeffGoal-D’BLOOOM!”

Another epic outing in a graphic hybrid series that continues not just to push the envelope, but tear it to shreds. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-50492-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them.

THE MADRE DE AGUAS OF CUBA

From the Unicorn Rescue Society series , Vol. 5

The Unicorn Rescue Society investigates the disappearance of a Cuban sea serpent.

In the fifth series installment, returning protagonists Uchenna and Elliot are in school, learning about water, when Professor Fauna calls them away. As the kids board the professor’s rickety single-propeller plane, they learn where exactly they are heading: Cuba. The island is in the middle of a massive drought, and Professor Fauna has reason to believe that the Madres de aguas (the Mother of Waters) has gone missing. It’s up to the society to find the sea serpent before any more damage is done to the people and wildlife of Cuba. As they set out on their mission of derring-do, they realize that once again they are up against their nemeses, the Schmoke Brothers. Via Yoenis, their Cuban American society liaison, Uchenna, Elliot, and readers learn about the political and economic hardships experienced by the people of Cuba, the island’s lack of basic goods and necessities, and Cuba’s need for real democracy (although the current role of the military is elided). This is conveyed within a quick, fast-paced read that’s ideal for kids who want a straightforward magical adventure. Uchenna is Nigerian, Elliot is white and Jewish, and Professor Fauna is Peruvian.

Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3142-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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