A captivating volley of revelations and resolutions.



From the Shadow Weaver series , Vol. 2

Emmeline and company return to thwart the nefarious Lady Aisling in Connolly’s gripping conclusion to her Shadow Weaver duet.

When the Cerelia Comet, under which all magically talented children are born, streaks through the sky 12 years early, there can only be one cause—Lady Aisling. A centuries-old magic eater, Lady Aisling steals and traps other talented people, and the comet’s early arrival means she has gained control of a sky shaker, who has the power to rearrange celestial bodies at will. Meanwhile, Emmeline and Lucas work hard to hone their respective talents of shadow weaving and light singing, which allowed them to escape Lady Aisling’s clutches before, but when Lucas’ parents are captured, the duo must flee to find the secret network that protects talented people and seek help. Terrified at the prospect that Lady Aisling may cultivate more magical children to harvest, Emmeline and Lucas and a small handful of new friends prepare to take her down once and for all. But to have a chance of defeating Lady Aisling, they must work with someone just as dangerous—Dar, Emmeline’s former shadow and Lady Aisling’s twin sister. Picking up immediately after the events of the first book, this narrative immerses readers in the layered tensions of a fight for survival, building them to the breaking point. Conflict on a cosmic scale is no simple thing to contain effectively, but a more action-oriented focus than its prequel and a classic evil to defeat keep things balanced. The book assumes a white default.

A captivating volley of revelations and resolutions. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4998-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


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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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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