THE INVENTORS AND THE LOST ISLAND

George and his friend Ada Byron are swept up in an adventure when the house next to George’s on Dorset Square is newly occupied by a scheming villain in this sequel to The Inventors at No. 8 (2018).

Twelve-year-old George, the third Lord of Devonshire, grows truffles in his damp attic for a living and enjoys a friendship with Lord Byron’s clever daughter, Ada. Unjustly accused of trying to poison the king, George must escape imprisonment. Behind this plot is the new neighbor, Don Nadie, or “Nobody,” whose reprehensible plan is to corral the world’s best scientists in this ante-Victorian era and build an unbeatable weapon. The narrative point of view stays with George as he and Ada make several daring escapes; travel seas in a mechanical whale of Ada’s making; find their friend Oscar, Oscar’s pirate father, and the orangutan Ruthie; and visit both the Alhambra and an island in the Galápagos. The treasure-map puzzle George’s grandfather left him is always on his mind. Though he believes himself cursed with bad luck, George’s resilience and optimism are apparent, and revelations about his heritage allow him to grow in confidence. Morgen’s jam-packed plot is well-focused and filled with excitement and humor, and it clearly delights in extravagant technological invention. Most characters are default white, with brown-skinned, mixed-race Oscar and some other secondary characters notable exceptions.

Swashbuckling fun. (Adventure/steampunk. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-47153-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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