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From the Song of the Eye Stone series , Vol. 4

A quest to save the world from unbridled greed comes to a close.

The elusive magical stone at last comes into the hands of those who have most desired it.

Taking on a vaguely metaphorical cast, the four-volume quest, translated from the Swedish-language original from Finland, at last brings tough, grieving Miranda and beloved young charge Syrsa to the pearl-paved Queen’s City. There Miranda and Syrsa—both pale-skinned former pearl divers who have lost an arm each to sharks—witness how intense longing for the fabled stone has warped their Queen, their raving nemesis Iberis, and all those who have abandoned homes and families over the years to join obsessively in the great hunt. When they finally see the pearlescent prize (which supposedly grants all desires), the interested parties must confront their consuming desire to possess it, an obsession cast in a new light by the pearl whisperer Syrsa’s cleareyed perception and conviction about the harm it does. Her steadfastness causes most adults to rally around her in support of the eye stone’s disposal, although some are too far gone to shake off its grip. Readers who seek robust, detailed worldbuilding may be disappointed by some loose ends and the ultimate lack of explanation of just what the eye stone and smaller pearls are made of. Those of a more philosophical bent will appreciate the exploration of Miranda’s observation that “desire can be a good thing, but not when it becomes so great that you lose sight of everything else.”

A quest to save the world from unbridled greed comes to a close. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781915568359

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Young Dedalus

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

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 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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