A superpowered thumbs up.

READ REVIEW

JOSHUA DREAD

THE NAMELESS HERO

From the Joshua Dread series , Vol. 1

When the substitute librarian tries to kill you on the last day of school, it doesn’t bode well for summer break.

Seven months after narrowly defeating the supervillain Vex (Joshua Dread, 2012), Joshua Dread, secretly superpowered sixth grader (whose parents are the Dread Duo) is looking forward to a quiet summer with his normal best buddy, Milton, and their superstrong friend, Sophie. Their plans are thwarted when Joshua and Sophie receive invitations to Gyfted & Talented, a summer camp for superpowered teens. Unfortunately, Joshua’s parents (the Botanist and Dr. Dread), who have scaled back on villainy since finding out Sophie’s dad is their archnemesis, Captain Justice, think camp sounds like a good idea. Milton forges an invite, and the trio arrives to find it’s a training camp that intends to put together a group of superteens. When they go on their first mission with costumes and new supernames, it’s nearly a disaster. Joshua saves the day and becomes the darling of the media as the titular “Nameless Hero” (long story). When the secrets of Gyfted & Talented start to come out, things really get weird and dangerous. Bacon’s second features more superteen angst, celebrity problems and wry to goofy humor. The battle with the bad guy at the end is a bit of a letdown, but there’s no denying preteens will like this believable superworld that the obvious promise of the third installment will take them back to.

A superpowered thumbs up. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-385-74186-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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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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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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