A pleasing adventure.

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THE INVENTORS AT NO. 8

George and his neighbor, Ada, daughter of the poet Lord Byron, embark on a wild adventure involving flying machines, pirates, and stolen artifacts.

George, third Lord of Devonshire, is a cautious boy, convinced that he lives under a curse in his house at No. 8 Dorset Square. Both his reprobate father and adored grandfather died when George turned 10. George and a remaining family servant, Frobisher, live by selling off the furnishings in the house. When a thief attempting to take George’s grandfather’s legacy, a map to the legendary Star of Victory, a “stone that assured its owner of success in battle,” is thwarted by an ingenious mechanical bird, George follows the bird to No. 5, where he discovers that the bird’s inventor is Ada, a clever, fearless, and strong-minded girl. When Ada launches a mission to find the Star of Victory, artistic Oscar, who longs to find his pirate captain father, and Ruthie, a rescued baby orangutan, stow away on her flying machine. The journey takes the group to Lake Geneva and the prison of Chillon, then on to Venice and an encounter with Charles Darwin. Oscar, whose mother was Tahitian, is brown-skinned, while all the other characters are white. The breathless plot is jam-packed with roguish thieves, tantalizing clues, and mild intrigue, and the narrative is filled with wry humor and kindness as George gradually gives up his self-centered sense of doom. An author’s note provides some factual information about Ada Byron Lovelace.

A pleasing adventure. (Fantasy/steampunk. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-47149-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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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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