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

THE FEARSOME FOURSOME

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.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

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 smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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