THE TERROR OF THE PINK DODO BALLOONS

VOL. III, HORACE SPLATTLY: THE CUPCAKED CRUSADER

More goofy fare for Captain Underpants devotees about the masked Cupcaked Crusader—actually diminutive fifth-grader Horace, who gets temporary, unpredictable superpowers from special cupcakes, whipped up by his bigger, smarter, bossy little sister. Here David borrows a page from Batman’s bio: menaced by voracious, hair-eating hairclips that drop from balloon versions of the town’s official bird, the residents of Blootinville unjustly pin the blame on their erstwhile hero. Even his friends, who are in the know, turn away, sure that he’s planning to “cupcake” his way to being voted Prince of the upcoming Blootinville Celernip Festival, named for a locally grown hybrid vegetable. Can Horace convince his buddies that they’re wrong, and nip the real villain’s scheme in time to save the townsfolk’s tresses? Need you ask? Even after just three episodes, the premise is wearing thin, but there are enough gags and zany twists in the tale to keep fans turning the pages. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-525-46867-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2002

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A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot.

A GALAXY OF SEA STARS

In sixth grade, Izzy Mancini’s cozy, loving world falls apart.

She and her family have moved out of the cottage she grew up in. Her mother has spent the summer on Block Island instead of at home with Izzy. Her father has recently returned from military service in Afghanistan partially paralyzed and traumatized. The only people she can count on are Zelda and Piper, her best friends since kindergarten—that is, until the Haidary family moves into the upstairs apartment. At first, Izzy resents the new guests from Afghanistan even though she knows she should be grateful that Dr. Haidary saved her father’s life. But despite her initial resistance (which manifests at times as racism), as Izzy gets to know Sitara, the Haidarys’ daughter, she starts to question whether Zelda and Piper really are her friends for forever—and whether she has the courage to stand up for Sitara against the people she loves. Ferruolo weaves a rich setting, fully immersing readers in the largely white, coastal town of Seabury, Rhode Island. Disappointingly, the story resolves when Izzy convinces her classmates to accept Sitara by revealing the Haidarys’ past as American allies, a position that put them in so much danger that they had to leave home. The idea that Sitara should be embraced only because her family supported America, rather than simply because she is a human being, significantly undermines the purported message of tolerance for all.

A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30909-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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KEVIN AND HIS DAD

There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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