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Exciting and satisfying, a tightly woven fantasy.

Wynn and her older brother, Elric, finally felt safe when they came through the Silver Gate and were welcomed by the Fairy Queen, who immediately named them prince and princess (The Silver Gate, 2016).

But this world is not really safe. The fairies live under a shield that protects them from the darkness of the Nightfell Wood, which is fully under the control of the evil and power-hungry Grendel. The queen’s own power is weakening as she mourns her son and daughter, who were lost long ago, causing her to become overprotective of Wynn and Elric. When Wynn is tricked into entering Nightfell, Elric is determined to find her, no matter the cost. The third-person narrative alternates chapter by chapter between Elric’s and Wynn’s adventures, which are set in a medieval-esque world with fairies, elves, reapers, and mystical creatures, each with their own magic. While Wynn and Elric do not disrupt the white default of the genre, the Fairy Queen has dark brown skin. It is a tale filled with danger, violence, and treachery as well as bravery, love, and kindness. Imprisonments, escapes, and battles occur at breakneck speed, all described in great detail. Most, though not all, characters are well-developed, some reappearing from the first book and some introduced here. But Wynn, and Elric’s love for her, is at the heart of it all. He believes in her, and she proves to be braver and more capable than anyone thinks, including herself. (Readers of Bailey's author's note in the first book will know that she has Rubenstein-Taybi syndrome, a genetic condition with variable effects.)

Exciting and satisfying, a tightly woven fantasy. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-239860-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

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

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 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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