A suspenseful little mystery with heart.

AUDACITY JONES STEALS THE SHOW

From the Audacity Jones series , Vol. 2

Audacity Jones returns for her next adventure, this time helping Harry Houdini in his quest to make an elephant disappear.

Making an elephant vanish turns out to have a double meaning. When the white girl and her brown-skinned friend, Bimmy, leave for New York, Min, her supremely confident cat, finds a way to follow and meets Punk, a sad, imprisoned baby elephant. In addition to helping Houdini, Min and Audacity try to rescue Punk from abusive captivity. Houdini, rather oddly for a professional magician, has not perfected his trick before running advertisements for it. Much of the book’s suspense, however, depends on that negligence. Although the first book in the series took place in 1910, Larson here fudges the historical timeline, as she explains in her author’s note. (Harry Houdini indeed performed a trick in which he made an elephant disappear, and young Archibald Leach, later the movie star Cary Grant, did perform in New York City, but much later.) Historical liberties don’t stop Audacity and her troupe—especially Min—from engaging in an enjoyable adventure while still evoking the 1910s. Larson focuses most of her story on the Houdini plotline, but the Punk plotline, which tugs at readers’ hearts, becomes the more memorable of the two. The author also promises to devote some of her royalties to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

A suspenseful little mystery with heart. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-5458-4065-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

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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