From the Project Terra series , Vol. 1

A funny, rollicking, action-packed quest through the cosmos.

Elara Vaughn has wanted to become a terraformer, a bioengineer who creates new life forms, her whole life.

The dark-skinned human girl journeys to the prestigious and wildly diverse Seven Systems School of Terraforming Sciences and Arts from the remote farming planet Vega Antilles V. Elara quickly makes friends: a polite stone giant named Knot and a blue girl named Beezle who’s part of a hive mind. Inadvertently and quite destructively creating a star together unites the three girls and catches the attention of the school’s headmistress. Instead of punishing them, she gives them extracurricular activities in which Elara and her friends succeed in exploding and destroying more school property. When Elara rescues snobby, four-armed Sabik from a spider-kitten, he becomes another friend. Headmistress Nebulina also tasks Elara with solving the Impossible Equation, a mathematical formula that proves that terraforming cannot be done instantaneously. As if this is not enough, someone is trying to kill Elara—it seems her fate is tied to the fate of the galaxy. Some action scenes run the risk of containing too much technical jargon for readers to fully engage, but the escape scenes and explosions help to compensate. Elara’s friendships with the charming Knot and Beezle will give middle-grade readers a positive model to follow, but her relationship with Sabik feels underdeveloped. An epilogue promises more adventures.

A funny, rollicking, action-packed quest through the cosmos. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-515-15791-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017


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


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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