Hopefully, Prydain's history will be continued.

THE BOOK OF THREE

From the Chronicles of Prydain series , Vol. 1

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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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 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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