While debut author Ormsbee’s use of language is laudable and the fantasy details are imaginative, they cannot compensate for...

THE WATER AND THE WILD

From the Water and the Wild series , Vol. 1

Two things make 12-year-old orphan Lottie Fiske’s sad life happier: her friendship with Eliot and the magical apple tree near her boardinghouse.

Every year, Lottie receives birthday presents in a hole at the base of the tree—the exact presents she has requested. This year, Eliot is incurably ill, with just a few weeks to live, so she wishes for his recovery; that birthday, a white finch appears. One day Lottie discovers a sprite in her closet. Adelaide Wilfer takes her “root shooting” in the apple tree to another world layered below Lottie’s. Adelaide’s father is a healer (and the birthday gift–giver) working on medicine for the Otherwise Incurable. Lottie discovers she is a Halfling—half human and half sprite—and also is the Heir of Fiske, which seems to have some significance. When the cruel king of this world kidnaps Mr. Wilfer, Lottie, Adelaide, her brother, Oliver, and a halfling sprite-wisp named Fife journey to the castle to find Mr. Wilfer and the medicine for Eliot. The arduous journey involves magical creatures, a swamp of oblivion, strangling vines, travel through plague-ridden wisp territory and more. Lottie is spunky and likable; the interplay among the four travelers is engaging. Unfortunately, the protracted story introduces unexplained elements and has a weak, confusing ending.

While debut author Ormsbee’s use of language is laudable and the fantasy details are imaginative, they cannot compensate for the novel’s flaws. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1386-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

The series keeps cruising along…though iffy casting may be an early sign that it’s losing steam.

SPY SCHOOL AT SEA

From the Spy School series , Vol. 9

In a new caper, the Spy School team thwarts a fiendish scheme on the high seas.

A fresh chance to catch up to world-class gourmand and perennial foe Murray Hill plants dogged CIA junior agent Ben Ripley and associates—including markedly more competent classmate Erica Hale and her equally able mom, Catherine—aboard the Emperor of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, for a fresh round of ridiculously destructive chases, startling twists, and repeated attempts on the hapless young spy’s life that are somehow always averted in the nick of time. Along with adding a grandfatherly, eco-conscious Costa Rican drug lord to the supporting cast, Gibbs flirts with stereotypes by trotting in, among the few characters who don’t at least present as White, a Chinese teen given to muddling her English idioms, her bling-loving mother, and a chipper shipboard event manager of Australian Indigenous descent. Still, the revved-up plot will leave readers as breathless as Ben is in the wake of a final, unexpected turn in his relationship with Erica. Finally, finally nabbing the slobby supervillain (at least for now) as well as saving the lives of hundreds of oblivious, hard-partying onboard tourists must count for something.

The series keeps cruising along…though iffy casting may be an early sign that it’s losing steam. (Thriller. 10-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7943-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more