While there are both better monster and better tech books out there, the fast pace and action focus will appeal to...


From the Gamer Squad series , Vol. 1

Monsters from a “Pokémon Go”–type game escape into the real world.

Bex, 12, is spending the summer before middle school catching virtual hybrid monsters in her favorite augmented-reality game/cellphone app, “Monsters Unleashed,” with nerdy best friend Charlie. But after they encounter a strange machine in Charlie’s grandfather’s attic, Bex’s Monster Lab is emptied. They realize it’s more than a glitch when one of the monsters attacks them on their way home. Only “Monsters Unleashed” players can see the escaped monsters (though the creatures interact with and affect the real world), and Bex and Charlie figure out that the phone game can be used to recapture the 10 missing monsters. The plot—can the monsters be trapped back in the game before they hurt anyone?—isn’t big on surprises, but it is big on action, and the chimera monsters are inventive. Stock side characters include the former best friend–turned–mean girl (and secret gamer) and the bully older brother; their subplots are as subtle as their characterizations. Although Bex and Charlie are white, their Massachusetts town is populated by characters with names that indicate diversity. Post-resolution, the company behind “Monsters Unleashed” releases a new game, which will inevitably cause trouble in the sequel, as will the distance starting the school year seems to place between Bex and Charlie.

While there are both better monster and better tech books out there, the fast pace and action focus will appeal to game-addicted readers. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2612-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Dizzyingly silly.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


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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