PLOTLESS, POINTLESS, PATHETIC

Monty Python meets Captain Underpants in a prose/cartoon hybrid from Down Under featuring Sir Glame, a puffed-up, borderline psychopath in armor, and his sarcastic equine sidekick Bill. The plot, insofar as there is one, involves a hunt for the author of Saucy McRascal’s Book of Fun!, a collection of smarmy verse (quoted at length) deemed entirely unsuitable for young readers. In a mix of cartoon panels and paragraphs liberally strewn with line drawings, the questing duo encounter a host of adversaries along the way, from motherly rival Hero Mrs. Honeychurch and her feathered sidekick Sir Quacksalot, to a space-alien cooking-show host, a literally downsized giant, and an Evil Giant Killer Robot From Hell. By the end, the pernicious poet is unmasked, but the bickering between Sir Glame and Bill escalates into an all-out battle that leaves the town of Sausagopolis in ruins. Wright blithely brings dead characters back to life, frequently veers off into irrelevant side episodes, and ratchets up the sarcasm along with the violence: so what’s not to like/offend—particularly for young readers who consider the Captain’s outings so third grade? (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-86508-785-8

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2004

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High-energy high jinks in a multicultural, or at least multispecies, setting.

THE CASE OF THE BATTLING BOTS

From the Tank & Fizz series

Young sleuths stumble on a demonic conspiracy to blow the lid off Slick City’s new sports arena. Just for a start.

Goblin Fizz Marlow and troll gearhead Tank Wrenchlin are convinced that slimeball schoolmate Rizzo Rawlins’ supposedly homemade battle bot illegally incorporates professional-grade code and components. Their search for proof leads them and elven trainee wizard Aleetha to several puzzles. Who is the mysterious “Codex,” and why is he (or she) supplying Rizzo as well as hacking Slick City’s computer systems to threaten disaster if the just-finished Slurp Stadium is opened for the upcoming Battle Bot Cup? How did the stadium come to be built over a magic stone that could, as old maps hint, serve as a portal to demon worlds? What can a trio of fourth-graders do, opposed by corrupt officials, a bully with a pair of hulking hench-ogres, and a local business tycoon with—as it turns out—a high-tech hand-held demon controller? Well, plenty, though not without a few missteps, help from a surprising temporary ally, and lots of climactic bot-smashing. In a slick mix of narrative blocks and panels of nonscary monsters delivering punch lines in dialogue balloons, the exploit careens along to a triumphant close.

High-energy high jinks in a multicultural, or at least multispecies, setting. (Graphic/mystery/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0813-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Another radiant outing.

SWING IT, SUNNY

From the Sunny series , Vol. 2

A home-centered sequel to Sunny Side Up (2015), with incidents joyful and otherwise in a middle schooler’s life.

The tale is set in the 1976-77 school year and framed by references to TV shows of that era (both contemporaneous and reruns, including The Six Million Dollar Man, The Brady Bunch, and Gilligan’s Island, with amusingly pithy show notes for each). The story unfolds in successive episodes of Sunny’s self-conceived The Sunny Show that confront her with domestic challenges ranging from little brother Teddy’s filled diaper (“Something Smells”) to the stormy holiday visit by formerly loving but now angry, troubled big brother Dale, come home from a military-style boarding school (“Six Million Dollar Boy”). Despite such low notes, though, the general trend is upbeat—with Gramps coming up from Florida for a visit, a sisterly, Indian-American teen neighbor named Neela Singh moving in next door (adding some diversity to the otherwise all-white main cast), and a heartening if long-distance thank-you from Dale for the pet rock Sunny gives him at Christmas being particular highlights. Using a combination of short exchanges of dialogue and frequent wordless reaction shots, the Holms again leverage simply drawn scenes colored by Pien into a loosely autobiographical narrative that is poignant and hilarious in turn and emotionally rich throughout.

Another radiant outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-74170-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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