THE FIRST

From the Endling series , Vol. 2

Simply sublime.

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 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

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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