An average mystery with the added spice of danger and an engaging depiction of a distinctive and wondrous place.

THE MISSING GRIZZLY CUBS

From the Wild World of Buck Bray series , Vol. 1

Buck Bray is about to become the star of his own new nature series, with the first episode set in Denali National Park in Alaska.

His father is in charge, Shoop is the cameraman, and Shoop’s adopted Asian daughter, Toni, is to be the “gofer.” Buck, an intrepid white 11-year-old, has a gift for getting into trying situations, like ending up (with Toni) too close to a grizzly bear. Through their own astute powers of observation and innate curiosity, Toni and Buck discover—then run afoul of—a grizzly-cub kidnapping trio. Why the criminals choose to commit the crime in the well-patrolled national park instead of almost anywhere else or even what their motivation for wanting the cubs might be are just two of the many unconvincing premises upon which the narrative dangerously teeters. Although plenty of interesting animal information is included, it doesn’t fully make up for clunky exposition and a predictable if improbable plot. Buck and Toni are likable enough, and their enthusiasm for the park is amply displayed. Along with the details of film production that are included and an exciting (if not especially plausible) climax, these qualities may be enough to sustain reader interest.

An average mystery with the added spice of danger and an engaging depiction of a distinctive and wondrous place. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58536-970-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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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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