Successfully combines history and entertainment.

THE WALL OF WILLOWS

From the Magic Mirror series , Vol. 4

A pair of siblings works to change history for the better.

In this fourth title in the Magic Mirror series, Chinese American siblings Marko and Miranda Lee know that history can come to life. Thanks to a magic mirror that allows them to travel through time to different moments in Chinese history, it is literally true. The concise narrative reveals that their paternal grandfather, Anqi Sheng, an archaeologist and magician, assigns them tasks in which they utilize the mirror to help mitigate damage at critical points in time. This time the pair must travel to 210 B.C.E. to carry out Emperor Qin’s dying wish: to deliver the royal seal and an order to name his eldest son, kindhearted Prince Fusu, the heir. However, corrupt Chancellor Zhao and his soldiers are hot on their heels with the emperor’s previous order demanding the prince’s death by suicide. The plot is action-packed and is driven at a bustling pace. Marko and Mira are aided by a few others including Mejin, the Lady of the Wall, a figure from Chinese folklore during the building of the Great Wall. An author’s note explains the historical basis for the characters and events within the story, but there is no bibliography of either their sources or further reading. Though a few sudden resolutions may confuse readers, this lively, high-interest adventure should appeal to those looking for a quick, exciting read.

Successfully combines history and entertainment. (Science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6925-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders.

TIGER BOY

When a Bengali boy finds and saves a tiger cub from a man who wants to sell her on the black market, he realizes that the schoolwork he resents could lead to a career protecting his beloved Sunderbans island home.

When the not-yet-weaned cub escapes from a nearby reserve, Neel and many of his neighbors join the search. But some are in the pay of greedy Gupta, a shady entrepreneur who’s recently settled in their community. Even Neel’s father is tempted by Gupta’s money, although he knows that Gupta doesn’t plan to take the cub back to the refuge. Neel and his sister use the boy’s extensive knowledge of the island’s swampy interior to find the cub’s hiding place and lure it out so it can be returned to its mother. The Kolkota-born author visited the remote Sunderbans in the course of her research. She lovingly depicts this beautiful tropical forest in the context of Neel’s efforts to find the cub and his reluctance to leave his familiar world. While the conflicts resolve a bit too easily, the sense of place is strong and the tiger cub’s rescue very satisfying. Pastel illustrations will help readers envision the story.

A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders. (author's note, organizations, glossary) (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-660-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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