A spirited and magical underdog story.

SPELL SWEEPER

Wizard school is enchanting—unless you’re the janitor.

Such is the life of seventh grader Cara Moone, a remedial wizard with a bad attitude and a utility belt. Not only is she a MOP (Magical Occurrence Purger) at Dragonsong Academy, but her pink unicorn underwear and propensity for rule-breaking further cast her as a misfit. While cleaning up spell dust at several Magical Occurrence sites, Cara encounters a mouth-thingy that oozes black slime. While far from glamorous, her cleanup duties are a critical part of keeping Blisses, or ordinary mortals, happily (even blissfully) ignorant of the magical world that exists right under their noses. Joined by a three-tailed fox, straight-laced classmate Gusto, and an illegal magical pet, Cara must unravel the mystery of an unreliable teacher and her enigmatic—as well as popular and effortlessly cool—classmate Harlee Wu and stop the slime from destroying the Field of Magical Matter. Surprising revelations and plenty of humor keep the story fresh, and the good-vs.-evil plotline is nicely nuanced. A family tragedy and a sisterly rift bring some serious notes to the narrative, while scenes involving a dark magic cult lend sinister vibes. Cara is of Irish descent and reads as White; most other characters read as White with several ancillary characters, such as Harlee, whose surnames add presumed diversity.

A spirited and magical underdog story. (author's note) (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284532-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

more