ATTACK OF THE SMART PIES

A zany premise and an equally off-the-wall plot keep this wandering tale—the first separate outing for characters with a regular gig in MUSE magazine—afloat, but just barely. Eight of the nine ancient Muses having retired to an old-age home, humanity’s welfare is left to a motley assortment of New Muses, like featherbrained, doughnut-obsessed Feather (Muse of Plants), Aeiou (Muse of Software), Bo (Muse of Factoids) and Kokopelli the flute player (Muse of Tricks and Tunes). Though Gonick introduces Emma, a young orphan whose deranged stepfather Darien Drinkwater is out to recover a treasure that belongs to her, Kokopelli is really the central character here—and he’s bending every effort to clobber the elusive Urania, Muse of Astronomy, with ballistically launched, electronically enhanced “smart pies.” Happily, he leaves off his obsession long enough to cozen Drinkwater with the Nigerian Scam, so that Emma can recover the gold and find a new, better home. Sporting an array of odd forms in the tiny vignettes with which this tale is sprinkled, the New Muses may keep their current fans amused, but they’re unlikely to draw many new ones with this offbeat episode. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8126-2740-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Cricket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS

In the fine old tradition of James Marshall's Cut-Ups, Pilkey (God Bless the Gargoyles, 1996, etc.) introduces George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two usually responsible fourth-graders, as in ``whenever anything bad happened, George and Harold were usually responsible.'' Pranksters of the first order, George and Harold are finally nabbed by Mr. Krupp, the principal, whom they then hypnotize into believing he's Captain Underpants, a superhero of their own creation. Before they can stop him, he's out the window in cape and briefs, off to fight crime with Wedgie Power, taking on bank robbers, robot thieves—`` `You know,' said George, `up until now this story was almost believable!' ''—and ultimately the evil Dr. Diaper. Distracting Dr. Diaper with some ``fake doggy doo- doo,'' the boys save the planet, then hustle Krupp back into his clothes, just in time for—their next adventure, The Attack of the Talking Toilets, coming soon. Pilkey's stubby black-and-white cartoon figures appear on every page but can be animated in one chapter, thanks to ``Flip-O-Rama,'' where readers flip pages back and forth for the ``latest in cheesy animation technology.'' There'll be no silence in the library once readers get hold of this somewhat classier alternative to Barf-o-Rama books and their crude ilk. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-84627-2

Page Count: 121

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1997

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