A few missteps but a fun and suspenseful adventure.



In this debut children’s book, a girl helps a ghost who is trying to solve a mystery and save his wife’s mountain inn.

In the summer before fifth grade, Abigail “Abi” Wunder is returning from a camping trip in the Allegheny Mountains with her father. She’s looking forward to seeing her new baby brother and starting summer art camp, but a breakdown near the small community of Pine Hill forces them to stay temporarily at the reputedly haunted Hilltop Inn. They’ll be the last guests for Dee Rainey, the inn’s owner, who must move out. After her husband Herbert’s death, his second will deeding the property to her can’t be found. The first will left the inn to his brother, Norman, who’s tearing it down to build a shopping center—and blaming Dee for Herbert’s death. Abi keeps seeing visions of little white boxes in the sunshine, and that’s not all: She meets Herbert’s ghost, who wordlessly and urgently asks for her help. With the assistance of her new friend Jess Summers, Abi follows the spirit’s clues to track down the second will, hoping to save the inn from destruction and Dee from jail. In her series opener, Wilson takes the classic meddling-kids mystery genre and jazzes it up with supernatural elements. Abi is engaging, and her talent for drawing ties in well with the plot. A drawback is that the author tends to repetitively hammer the same points, such as the shopping center plan or a confusion over Herbert’s pills. And the ending involves an implausibly easy development. Tutti, who has illustrated books in several genres, contributes pencil sketches that are nicely shaded; the light-skinned characters have expressive faces but often stiff poses.

A few missteps but a fun and suspenseful adventure.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73513-100-9

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2020

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Dizzyingly silly.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


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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