FEARLESS JOE DEARBORNE

This debut middle-grade book asks readers: Would you rather be fearless or courageous?
Sixth-grader Joe Dearborne is known in his small North Carolina hometown for being fearless, a reputation he earned for such feats as rescuing a neighbor’s dog from a burning house. But the truth is he’s just reckless: He literally doesn’t feel fear. However, after a poisonous snakebite nearly kills him, it also robs him of this gift and gives him the chance not only to be afraid, but also to learn what real courage means. His first encounter with being scared arrives in the coolly diabolical form of Mrs. Chill, who comes to look after him while his father takes care of business matters overseas. At first, Joe longs for the simplicity of his old life, but then he resolves to ignore the fact that he’s afraid of Mrs. Chill until his dad gets home. But when she turns out to be a real danger to Joe’s family and friends, he must find the courage to stop her. The allegory may seem obvious to experienced readers as Joe moves from innocence to experience in order to discover his true character. Young readers, however, will be captivated by the tightly written, suspenseful story featuring a likable main character and an engaging villain. Mitchell creates scenarios that are exciting, believable and age-appropriate; Joe goes on adventures, such as a night in the woods with a coyote, and experiences a budding romance with an equally courageous girl named Meg Darcy. The mystery of Mrs. Chill’s true motives, along with the story’s apparently paranormal elements, will make it hard for youngsters to stop reading.
A unique, engaging chapter-book adventure.

Pub Date: July 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1495933592

Page Count: 198

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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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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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun . (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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