Neither funny nor frightening, but it will have an audience.


From the Tales from the Haunted Mansion series , Vol. 1

Librarian of the Haunted Mansion (and nominal “author”) Amicus Ravenswood tries to outfright four 12-year-old tale spinners.

Tim, Noah, Willa, and Steve call themselves the Fearsome Foursome. They all love the horror writing of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft and convene every week at their clubhouse to try to outscare one another by telling frightening tales. One stormy day, their clubhouse is destroyed; in its place are four fancy invitations to an unfamiliar address. That evening they meet at the ornate gates of a sprawling estate and enter (at their own risk, of course) to find a creepy librarian ready to tell them eerie tales—four in all, each starring one of the Fearsome Foursome. Tim finds a cursed baseball glove. Willa wishes her pets back to life with a “gypsy” token. Noah grows some primordial life-forms in the backyard pool. And Steve gets caught in a deadly game of dare…or dare. Each tale has a grisly (if unbelievable) end, as does the collection. Esposito comes to books from film and TV, including R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, and the four stories in this slick, scare-free package, narrated intrusively by cut-rate Crypt Keeper clone Ravenswood, could have been plucked from any tome in Jovial Bob’s Goosebumps book brand. Final art by comic artist Jones not seen; the text does not paint the characters as notably diverse.

Neither funny nor frightening, but it will have an audience. (Horror. 8-11)

Pub Date: July 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1329-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves.


Two shelter cats take on a mysterious puss with weird powers who is terrorizing the feline community.

Hardly have timorous (and aptly named) Poop and her sophisticated buddy, Pasha, been brought home by their new “human beans” for a two-week trial than they are accosted by fiery-eyed Scaredy Cat, utterly trashing the kitchen with a click of his claws and, hissing that he’s in charge of the neighborhood, threatening that if they don’t act like proper cats—disdaining ordinary cat food and any summons (they are not dogs, after all), clawing the furniture instead of the scratching post, and showing like “cattitude”—it’ll be back to the shelter for them. Will Poop and Pasha prove to be fraidycats or flee to the cowed clowder of homeless cats hiding from the bully in the nearby woods? Nope, they are made of sterner stuff and resolutely set out to enlist feline allies in a “quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of purrs!” Cast into a gazillion very short chapters related by furry narrators Poop and Pasha, who are helpfully depicted in portrait vignettes by Herzog at each chapter’s head, the ensuing adventures test the defiant kitties’ courage (and, in some cases, attention spans) on the way to a spooky but poignant climax set, appropriately enough as it happens, in a pet graveyard.

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves. (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49443-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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