LIONS & LIARS

When social misfit Frederick Frederickson rises to popularity due to a case of mistaken identity, he struggles to maintain the charade.

Even his friends see him as a loser, a flea among lions, but 10-year-old Frederick Frederickson is sure that he can overcome the pecking order of fifth grade, someday becoming “his true awesome self.” After a game of dodgeball goes wrong, Frederick can only hope that his family’s annual cruise will give him respite from school. But when a Category 5 hurricane cancels his vacation, Frederick is pushed to the limit and accepts a dare that sends him floating down a river without a paddle. Coming ashore at Camp Omigoshee, a disciplinary camp for boys, Frederick is mistaken for a camper whose bad reputation is infinitely cooler than his own. In his effort to keep up the facade, Frederick discovers that the other boys are also not what they seem. Beasley’s sophomore novel (Gertie’s Leap to Greatness, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, 2016) is chock full of zany, nicknamed characters (Frederick shares a cabin with Nosebleed, Ant Bite, Specs, and the Professor) coming together in a story of friendship among boys. The boys’ races are not specified, though one character has an Indian name, and Santat depicts one as black and another as brown-skinned; Frederick is white. Readers will find it difficult not to compare this book to Louis Sachar’s more complex Holes, though depth is added with Frederick’s recognition of his economic privilege and questioning of the power his fake popularity gives him.

A fun coming-of-age romp. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30263-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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