Ghost hunters best look elsewhere for their scares.

READ REVIEW

MIDNIGHT AT MADAME LEOTA'S

From the Tales from the Haunted Mansion series , Vol. 2

Amicus Arcane, librarian of the haunted mansion from which this series issues, returns with more tales intended to terrify.

For years “up-and-coming writer” William Gaines has been searching for an authentic medium to help him contact his dead sister to ask her forgiveness. Along the way he’s debunked every medium he’s met. When a mysterious stranger offers to introduce him to the fabled (and dead) Madame Leota, William jumps at the chance—but he must first, for some unspecified reason, suffer through four tales from the mansion library: a nonsensical revenge tale set in a roving carnival, a tale of vampiric inheritance and remorse, a slightly more-sensical revenge tale of zombie love, and, the creepiest of the lot—though still unsatisfying—the story of an orphan’s suffocation by cockroaches. William’s portion ends with a connection to The Fearsome Foursome (2016), the first Haunted Mansion collection, but few spook seekers will make it to the close. This second in the series inspired by Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride regularly contradicts itself and is marred by clumsy writing. Intrusive narrator Arcane’s comments on his own comments are repetitive and never as amusing as their speaker believes them. Comic-book–artist Jones’ eerie, scratchy occasional illustrations are wasted here.

Ghost hunters best look elsewhere for their scares. (Horror. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1471-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.

ALI CROSS

The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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