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From the Greenglass House series

A fascinating, intricate tale of friendship and rescue.

Another of Milford’s Nagspeake tales, brimful of intrigue, plucky wannabe adventurers, and some suspiciously artful iron.

Marzana Hakelbarend and Nialla Giddis are bored. Supremely bored. In the Liberty of Gammerbund, “the place where nothing happens,” they stake out even the most innocuous of interactions in hopes of uncovering some dastardly plot—alas, to no avail. A mysterious dinner guest from the city proper, however, upends the Hakelbarends’ tranquil domesticity with news that a mayoral candidate’s 11-year-old daughter has been kidnapped. Marzana’s parents don’t seem to consider the girl’s being held in Gammerbund a possibility, so Marzana, sick of being denied access to her parents’ pasts and (mis)adventures, decides to spearhead her own investigation with the help of an assembled six-kid band dubbed the Thief Knot. The offbeat, impassioned narration twists through uncertainties, anxieties, failures, and triumphs at a jaunty clip. Observant readers will delight in piecing together the clues to puzzle out the knots alongside the Knot as these well-drawn individuals grow from awkward semiacquaintances into a close, cohesive team. Colorful supporting characters further populate this complex world. A particular strength is Milford’s depiction of parent-child relationships; rather than taking the easy way out and making the parents dead, abusive, or absent, she makes them affectionate, invested enough in their children’s well-being to grow livid upon discovering they’ve been conspiring behind their backs to get involved in a dangerous crime. Marzana is biracial, with a pale mother and dark-skinned father; Nialla presents white; other characters are diverse.

A fascinating, intricate tale of friendship and rescue. (Mystery/fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-46689-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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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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