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From the Thrones & Bones series , Vol. 3

A throneworthy consort in a series forged in fantasy.

Friends are the family you choose, and family is the enemy you combat in an oppressive empire ripe for rebellion.

In this third entry in the Thrones & Bones series, Thianna the half-giantess and Karn the average-sized human are en route to recover the Horn of Osius (once stolen by Thianna’s mother when she escaped Caldera, stolen back by the Calderans in Book 2). Desstra the dark elf makes the duo a pale-skinned trio, even if Thianna doesn’t quite trust her yet. However, six hands won’t suffice when dueling a dual monarchy—and an ornery, olive-skinned young soldier named Sirena—for the horn before it can be used to enslave a new generation of wyvern hatchlings and prolong the Calderans’ tyrannical rule. As the trio strategizes a victory, Thianna tries to relish seeing her mother’s homeland for the first time, not knowing that her bloodlines extend even further. More exquisite creatures are added to the roster (a very vocal minotaur, a royal wood nymph, fleets of arachne), amplifying the fantasy fanfare. Multiple points of view (Thianna, Karn, Desstra, Sirena, and more) continue to offer varied perspectives and perpetuate an unfurling momentum. It is essential to have read the two predecessors to comprehend character dynamics and appreciate the ever-so-slightly didactic lesson to treasure friendships evolving in the unlikeliest of contemporaries.

A throneworthy consort in a series forged in fantasy. (maps, glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-39040-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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