Younger, less-sophisticated sci-fi fans who can get past the backstory-filled opening might find this just the ticket.

SEVENTH GRADE VS. THE GALAXY

When extraterrestrials impound a spaceship full of students and teachers 400 light-years from Earth, it’s up to Jack and his buddies to get them all back home.

Life on Public School Ship 118 has been hard for Jack ever since his science-teacher father was fired and kicked off, leaving him alone and outcast. It gets dramatically worse when the ship comes under attack. In the chaos, Jack’s father texts him via communicator ring with directions to save the school—but implementing them strands the entire ship in Elvidian space, where they are swiftly imprisoned. While the Earth kids are forced to attend Elvidian school and wear Elvidian contact lenses, Jack discovers that his father had been fired for tinkering with the P.S.S. 118, illicitly equipping it with the means to get them home—if only they can figure out how to get all of them back on the ship. Fortunately, the Elvidians seem to be a touch hypochondriacal and do not recognize Earth diseases….Levy’s novel, festooned with futuristic tech, is aimed at action-oriented readers, but too much telling rather than showing, especially initially, may turn them off prematurely. Repetitive details such as frequent references to Jack’s dad’s firing further bog the plot down. Jack presents white on the cover; Ari, who is Jewish, is depicted with brown skin; and Becka has light skin and long, dark hair.

Younger, less-sophisticated sci-fi fans who can get past the backstory-filled opening might find this just the ticket. (Science fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2810-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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