Canadian railway history, fantasy, a flutter of romance—and a thoughtful examination of social injustice—collide in this...

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THE BOUNDLESS

William Everett is proud of his rags-to-riches father, manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway, but he wants to forge his own destiny.

Will’s first chance comes when real-life 19th-century rail baron Cornelius Van Horne invites him on a train ride to greet his years-absent, track-laying dad at a nearby mountain camp. After surviving an avalanche and a terrifying sasquatch attack, Will gets to hammer in the last spike, a diamond-encrusted gold railway spike worth a fortune. The story resumes three years later, as a taller, more fancified Will embarks with his now–high-ranking father on the maiden voyage of the Boundless, an opulent, 987-car train—a “rolling city” complete with automaton bartender and traveling circus, 7 miles from locomotive to caboose. Untold treasure is locked up in Van Horne’s booby-trapped funeral car, and a motley crew of hungry souls wants to get their hands on it no matter whom they have to kill to get it. The suspenseful shenanigans that follow shape this wild, cinematic ride, but the underlying narrative track is Will’s dogged determination to follow his own bliss—perhaps as an artist—despite his father’s strict opposition.

Canadian railway history, fantasy, a flutter of romance—and a thoughtful examination of social injustice—collide in this entertaining swashbuckler from the author of Printz Honor–winning Airborn (2005). (Historical fantasy. 9-14)

Pub Date: April 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7288-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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