A beginning full of potential.

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GOING WILD

From the Going Wild series , Vol. 1

Life gets strange for 12-year-old Charlie Wilde after she moves to a new town and finds a bracelet that grants her animal-based powers.

The cross-country relocation from Chicago to Navarro Junction, Arizona, changes everything for Charlie. Her former stay-at-home biologist dad now teaches at a community college. Her doctor mom works erratic hours as head of the town’s ER, away from home more often than not. Trying out for the soccer team, making new friends (and a potential frenemy), and helping out on a school play also weigh on Charlie. McMann shines best here when exploring Charlie’s efforts to adapt to her new life. For a majority of the first half, the novel moves slowly, which makes all the struggles of being a new girl—as when Charlie wonders if a potential friend would want to hang out—feel like monumental moments. Throughout such scenes, the author peppers in signs about Charlie’s new powers. Once Charlie realizes that her bracelet gives her, for example, the strength of an elephant and the speed of a cheetah, she swings from fearing her newfound abilities to wanting to know more. The development of her powers borders on clichéd (another burning building to test the protagonist?), but the narrative picks up steam during the final pages. A cliffhanger ending promises a much more action-packed sequel. Race and ethnicity of characters other than Charlie are signaled by names and physical characteristics; readers will likely infer that Charlie is white.

A beginning full of potential. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-233714-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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