Minor perils and likable characters make for a cozy and enjoyable read.

A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST

McCullough, who was a Morris YA Debut Award finalist for Blood Water Paint (2018), draws inspiration from her hometown of Seattle in her middle-grade debut.

On the surface, Sutton and Luis could not be more different. Sutton is a logic-ruled robot coder with a passion for hard science while Luis is a fantasy writer who uses his pen to go on adventures that his allergies prevent him from undertaking in real life. Both are from single-parent homes, and when their parents’ nascent romance grows serious, they are thrust together. Their first encounter is a bit of a bust as Sutton and Luis struggle to build rapport, but determined to give one another a second chance, the families decide on a hike. When the children are accidentally separated from the adults, they must learn to work together despite their differences in order to make it to their rendezvous point safely, in the process learning to confront problems and think with empathy and creativity. With chapters switching narrative focus between the two protagonists, their inner turmoil is handled with sensitivity, creating a character-driven tale that doesn’t skimp on plot. While Luis’ issues with severe allergies are explicit, Sutton’s struggles with emotional expression and sensory overload are never given a name, though they are likely to resonate with readers on the autism spectrum. Luis is mixed-race Latinx and white, Sutton is white, and the supporting cast includes Asian and LGBTQ friends and neighbors. The notable representation of female characters in diverse STEM fields is heartening.

Minor perils and likable characters make for a cozy and enjoyable read. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3849-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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