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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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