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From the Chronicles of Prydain series , Vol. 1

Hopefully, Prydain's history will be continued.

Prydain is an imagined territory, somewhat like Wales and peopled with characters whose genealogy stretches back to Welsh legend.

The Book of Three takes up Prydain's history during a wonderfully uncertain time — perhaps at the end of the Dark and the start of the Middle Ages. Mankind was still in the process of "becoming" in Prydain then. For instance, there are two characters here who begin to cross the line into humanity — Gurgi, a near animal, comic in his cowardice and irresponsibility, who begins the change by responding to kindness through serving with no ulterior motive for once; Doli, a dwarf who left his enchanted underground world behind because he had forgotten the trick of making himself invisible. In fact, the people of the time were forgetting, too. There were still those who could control occult power, but the methods of invoking it were not being systematically handed down; some was lost and some hoarded for evil ends. Taran, young boy, dubbed "Assistant Pig Keeper" to satisfy his dreams of glory, is the central character. A ward of the wizard, Dallben, he is in charge of an oracular pig, Hen Wen. His search for her after a raid by the horrible Horned King brings him to such strong fantasy characters as: Gwydion, a prince who teaches him the first principle of leadership — self control; Eilonwy, a runaway junior witch, and Fflewddur, an incompetent bard. If these characters don't suggest T.H. White's treatment of the Arthurian legends, they should. The author draw his figures with the same touches of irritability, doltishness and contrariness that leavens with high good humor the high fantasy. The major theme is good against evil— black magic against white — but (give thanks for creative restraint) only to a draw.

Hopefully, Prydain's history will be continued.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 1964

ISBN: 0805080481

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1964

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From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

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

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 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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