An old-fashioned, rip-roaring adventure featuring a smart, independent girl.

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RACE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA

Sometimes a hearty dose of escapism is exactly what’s needed for trying times.

Fidelia Quail, a white 11-year-old in a pinafore with “a knack for inventing,” is happily assisting with her marine biologist parents’ shark research when they drown in a storm. Fidelia feels responsible—she’d built the submarine that Dr. and Dr. Quail were in when the storm struck their beloved Arborley Island. But it was the Undertow, a well-known ocean current, that was to blame. Within days, Fidelia’s life is upended when she’s kidnapped by a pirate named Merrick the Monstrous, a man with “skin so pale it was almost lavender.” The captain and his crew, a woman with “white-blond hair” called Bloody Elle and “dark-skinned” Cheapshot Charlie, believe that she can retrieve their sunken treasure. Onboard a battle-worn ship called the Jewel with only a knapsack full of sweets, Fidelia tackles her situation head-on. She tweaks another of her inventions, a filtration system she calls a “Water-Eater,” to survive the dive. This fantastical tale, set in an indeterminate time and place, is chock-full of humor and swaggering pirate adventure. There’s romance, too, as Merrick turns out to be a pirate with a heart of gold and a secret past with Fidelia’s aunt Julia.

An old-fashioned, rip-roaring adventure featuring a smart, independent girl. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7923-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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