Not even in the same League as Scott Seegert’s funnier and far more useful Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and...

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THE ULTIMATE TOP SECRET GUIDE TO TAKING OVER THE WORLD

A phoned-in guide to world domination for the easily amused.

Nesbitt offers rightly characterized “brief period[s] of simulated education” (“Your arch is the curve on the bottom of your foot, so an arch nemesis is an enemy that you want to step on”) punctuated by boob, doo-doo and butt jokes. The author lays out a ten–or-so–step program for would-be supervillains—from becoming a genius overnight by playing more video games to acquiring evil minions and robots along with the requisite lair, look, cackle, motto and booty (“Hey! Stop that! Are you laughing at the BIG, SHINY BOOTY? You are?”). He also wanders off on tangents that will likely lose even his intended audience, suggesting such family-friendly pranks as resetting all of the household clocks and watches or periodically announcing that he’s taking a break or that his brother has dropped a hamster down his pants. Long’s small spot cartoon drawings supply neither humor nor relief.

Not even in the same League as Scott Seegert’s funnier and far more useful Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World (2010). (Humor. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4022-3834-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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A deft mix of chills and chuckles, not quite as sideways as Wayside School but in the same district.

A FRIENDLY TOWN THAT'S ALMOST ALWAYS BY THE OCEAN!

From the Secrets of Topsea series , Vol. 1

A fifth-grader struggles to fit in after he and his recently widowed mother move to a decidedly oddball new town.

As if the seemingly infinite pier, the lighthouse in the middle of town, and the beach teeming with enigmatic cats aren’t strange enough, Davy Jones discovers that his school locker has been relocated to the deep end of the swimming pool, his lunchtime fries are delivered by a “spudzooka,” and no one seems to be able to get his name right. On the other hand, his classmates welcome him, and in next to no time he’s breaking into an abandoned arcade to play pinball against a ghost, helping track down a pet pig gone missing on Gravity Maintenance Day, and like adventures that, often as not, take sinister swerves before edging back to the merely peculiar. Point-of-view duties pass freely from character to character, and chapters are punctuated with extracts from the Topsea School Gazette (“Today’s Seaweed Level: Medium-high and feisty”), bulletins on such topics as the safe handling of rubber ducks, and background notes on, for instance, the five local seasons, giving the narrative a pleasantly loose-jointed feel. Davy presents as white, but several other central cast members are specifically described as dark- or light-skinned and are so depicted in the frequent line drawings; one has two moms.

A deft mix of chills and chuckles, not quite as sideways as Wayside School but in the same district. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-00005-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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CRYSTAL CADETS

From the Crystal Cadets series , Vol. 1

On her birthday, a teenager learns that she is one of the Crystal Cadets, a textbook group of young, magic-wielding heroines charged with saving the world from vague, clichéd darkness.

This series opener introduces Zoe to the other Crystal Cadets: Jasmine, Olivia, Gwen, Liz, Milena, and a sixth, who is used as a plot twist. They ride fabulous creatures like winged horses and giant butterflies and use magical tools to fight off creepy people with black eyes. Zoe seems only momentarily fazed to find her parents evidently possessed before being whisked away. Glib dialogue makes the book feel trite and superficial. “Nonny, nonny boo boo. You can’t catch me!” sings a young cadet as she faces off against what looks like a toothed shadow. Attempts at puns create cringe-worthy moments: “Looks like the crystal's out of the bag!” The story was originally published as a digital comic series, and Toole’s writing offers mostly choppy transitions and is further hampered by poor worldbuilding, logic, and back story. In what feels like a halfhearted stab at grounding the story, Olivia explains, “The darkness has been around forever. It feeds on bad stuff, like fear and greed and bad manners.” If both story and illustrations remind readers of Sailor Moon, that is about par for the course. O’Neill’s depictions are fair and in the vein of manga comics, though at times they look depthless.

Skip and pass. (Graphic fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63140-431-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Roar Comics/Lion Forge

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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