THE FIRST

From the Endling series , Vol. 2

In this second installment, the dairne Byx’s quest is far from over.

Applegate continues her otherworldly saga in this second installment of the Endling series. (Yes, the second book is called The First, while the first book was called The Last. Just go with it.) Here readers follow doglike Byx and her companions—humans Khara and Renzo, catlike Gambler, and the small and furry Tobble—as they attempt to find the traveling island of Tarok and, they hope, more dairnes, saving Byx from being the last of her species. Along the way, Applegate shifts focus from the first outing and uses Byx’s narration to explore Khara’s transition from a young girl to a leader. This change serves the story well, pulling readers further into the political turmoil of the land. The current reigning dictator, the Murdano, will soon be under attack by the no-less-vicious Kazar Sg’drit, who is enslaving other sentient species in his quest to build an army. Against this backdrop, Khara must rise as a leader and raise an army to stop a war even as Byx evolves from a pup to a leader in her own right. Themes of conservation, war, and human trafficking are skillfully interwoven into a world of magic and wonder. This second installment will have readers salivating for a third. Khara is explicitly described as having brown skin; absence of such specificity implies Renzo’s white.

Simply sublime. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-233556-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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