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A perky marketing ploy—but not a piece of literature.

This “debut” blends satire and allegory as well as TV characters and literature.

The horror of masculinity in the violently gender-segregated world of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy meets the early feminist-separatist vision of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland (1915). Set that strange fan fiction in a Candyland-scape, and you’ve got the branded television content that is this title. It opens with 12-year-old Penn (black, according to the cover illustration) wondering when he will turn into a Grabagorn, “enormous and strong, with icy blue skin and a set of horns.” Penn lives in a desolate land without women, who apparently were all killed by dragons. But then he discovers three girls caught in a trap and learns that the girls and women haven’t been killed but in fact escaped. Penn and his new friend Kristy (white on the cover) go on an adventure to restore gender equality through mindfulness and communication. Credited ghostwriter Mlynowski tries to deliver a very specific message about feminism while reinforcing all sorts of unhelpful stereotypes. Apparently men left to their own devices are flatulence-obsessed brutes incapable of asking for directions, and women are naturally cooperative, anger-averse nurturers prone to uptalking. A cameo referencing a gay character from the TV series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt implies that gay men are a kind of third sex who prefer the company of women.

A perky marketing ploy—but not a piece of literature. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53575-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2019

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

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 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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From the First Cat in Space series , Vol. 1

Epic lunacy.

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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