CRUNCH

Readers are thrust immediately into the trials and tribulations of 14-year-old Dewey Mariss and his family. His parents are away from home, unable to return because of a gasoline shortage. Running their small family business, the Bike Barn, with his younger brother and helping older sister Lil look after the five-year-old twins keeps Dewey plenty busy, especially since the shortage means that more people are depending on their bicycles. Throw in a sneaky thief, a cranky neighbor, some miscellaneous farm animals and a few minor adventures, and there’s plenty to fill the 300-plus pages. Connor keeps things moving merrily along, however, and readers will enjoy going along for the (brisk) ride. Characters are colorful but believable, dialogue crisp and amusing. The New England setting is attractively realized, and the underlying energy crisis treated seriously but not sensationally. Perhaps things wrap up a mite too tidily, but Dewey deserves a break, and the whole family is so engaging that anything less than the happy ending would be disappointing indeed. Charming and original. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-169229-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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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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Still, its revelations make a fine yarn. (Fiction. 10- 14)

WALK TWO MOONS

During the six days it takes Sal's paternal grandparents to drive her west to Idaho in time for her mother's birthday, she tells them about her friend Phoebe—a story that, the 13-year-old comes to realize, in many ways parallels her own: Each girl had a mother who left home without warning.

The mystery of Phoebe's more conventional mother's disappearance and its effects on her family and eventual explanation unfold as the journey, with its own offbeat incidents, proceeds; meanwhile, in Sal's intricate narrative, the tragic events surrounding her mother's flight are also gradually revealed. After Sal fell from a tree, her mother carried her back to the house; soon after, she bore a stillborn child. Slowly, the love between Sal's parents, her mother's inconsolable grief, and Sal's life since her departure emerge; last to surface are the painful facts that Sal has been most reluctant to face. Creech, an American who has published novels in Britain, fashions characters with humor and sensitivity, but Sal's poignant story would have been stronger without quite so many remarkable coincidences or such a tidy sum of epiphanies at the end.

Still, its revelations make a fine yarn. (Fiction. 10- 14)

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 978-0-06-023334-1

Page Count: 280

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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