From the Peter Nimble series , Vol. 2

This novel should be in the hands of every human young enough at heart to be enchanted by the written word.

Sophie is given an extraordinary book to repair, and with it comes all manner of magic and danger.

If E. Nesbit penned Don Quixote, the results would be something like this extravagant tale. In this sequel to Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes (2011), that book’s title character returns to meet his equal in Sophie, a 12-year-old bookmender. She has dark skin, unlike most of her fellow Bustleburghers, inherited from her deceased mother, who came from a faraway island. Peter delivers to her the magical Book of Who, which puts her in the sights of Inquisitor Prigg, whose life objective is to destroy all nonsense, most specifically storybooks. Sophie quickly learns that the danger to her is very real, as she is a Storyguard, like her mother before her. In the dubious company of charms-purveyor Madame Eldritch, a hexed mandrake, Sir Tode (a small, hooved, catlike creature), and a giant silver tigress, Sophie must find and protect the other three books: of what, where, and when, of course. Together, the four volumes contain information about all the magic that ever existed. Themes of parental legacy, friendship, and the permanence of stories in the minds of their readers are woven through this elaborate adventure. Auxier balances delectable language, invigorating nonsense, and wisdom with aplomb.

This novel should be in the hands of every human young enough at heart to be enchanted by the written word. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1747-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016


From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

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

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 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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