“Wrong” in the right kind of way.

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THIRTEENS

Three preteens uncover the secret, supernatural history of their Oregon town.

Following her mom’s disappearance in a fire, Eleanor relocates to too-perfect Eden Eld to live with relatives. She devises a “How To Be Normal” plan to give herself a fresh start: don’t talk about Mom or things that aren’t there, go to school, and smile. But, when Eleanor meets classmates Otto and Pip, she almost immediately starts to stray from her plan. Otto and Pip can see the things Eleanor sees—the “wrong things”—like the giant black dog with red eyes that seems to be everywhere. The trio’s strange connections go even deeper, proving to be more than mere coincidence. Local legends say that every 13th Halloween, on their shared 13th birthday, three children go missing. If the legends are true, Eleanor, Otto, and Pip will be the next to disappear. Can they stop fate before it’s too late? Marshall’s paranormal middle-grade debut reads like an expanded, kid-friendly version of Ursula LeGuin’s The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas (1973). Though the characters, both child and adult, perhaps too readily accept their eerie reality without question, the well-laid clues and interwoven original fairy tales compel the plot forward. The cliffhanger ending—filled with juicy, unresolved revelations—hints at a much-needed sequel. Otto is brown-skinned; the rest of the cast is assumed White by default.

“Wrong” in the right kind of way. (Suspense. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11702-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

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. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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