Substantially the best of the mystery/travelogue series to date, this one suffers from fewer credibility issues than the...

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THE WOLVES OF SLOUGH CREEK

From the Wild World of Buck Bray series , Vol. 3

Middle schooler and television star Buck Bray is back for a third outing, this time bringing his intrepid detecting skills to Yellowstone National Park.

He’s accompanied by his partner in crime prevention, Toni, the daughter of the cameraman who films the national park–related documentaries. Shortly after the kids meet the twins Kale and Kayla Kolson, also middle schoolers, in the park, it becomes clear that someone is illegally flying drones there. Then coyotes and a wolf turn up dead from poison. Reviewing some of the show’s film, Kale and Buck realize the poisoner is using a large, expensive drone to deliver the lethal bait to the animals. Kale, who has Asperger’s, is a talented drone flyer. So is Jason, an older boy who’s also camping in the park. Finally, there’s Lyall, the president of the drone flying club, all of the fliers drawn to the area by a nearby drone competition. Young cleverly inserts ample red herrings, sustaining the suspense while including lots of information about both the park and the wolf packs that have been reintroduced there. None of the characters have physical descriptions (except for age), which combines with the cover depiction of light-skinned Buck and Toni to imply the white default. Information about drone flying adds additional appeal to this engaging tale.

Substantially the best of the mystery/travelogue series to date, this one suffers from fewer credibility issues than the previous entries. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-53411-020-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.

ALI CROSS

The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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