Blending issues that matter to young adolescents with intrigue and a surprise ending, Haddix proves why she’s a master of...

REMARKABLES

Eleven-year-old Marin discovers her “new” neighbors are from 20 years ago.

Light science fiction and plenty of mystery abound when her mother’s job takes Marin and her family from Illinois to small-town Pennsylvania. The preteen worries about losing old friends and making new ones, but not for predictable reasons. An unexpected opportunity allows Marin—and readers—to learn how fear, bullying, and secrets poisoned her former friendships. The second and larger mystery, which also drives the plot, occurs when Marin, scouting out her new neighborhood, notices several teenagers appear and suddenly vanish. Charley, who’s lived next door with his grandmother since his parents’ substance use made it hard to care for him and his brothers, has seen them, too. Dubbing these mysteriously vanishing teens the Remarkables, Charley believes that they are time travelers from the past and include his father and the girlfriend his father may have accidentally killed. In this tightly woven, stand-alone story, Marin and Charley set out to identify the Remarkables, stop the accident that claimed one of them, and hopefully keep Charley’s father from succumbing to addiction. In the process, the author seamlessly combines elements of both mysteries while also raising ethical dilemmas about changing the past. Most characters, including Marin and Charley, are default white, but some of the Remarkables are kids of color.

Blending issues that matter to young adolescents with intrigue and a surprise ending, Haddix proves why she’s a master of middle-grade fiction. (Suspense. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-283846-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A story of fierce friendship, bravery, loyalty, and finding—or making—a place to belong.

THE MIDNIGHT CHILDREN

Ravani Foster and the whole town of Slaughterville are changed by the arrival of seven unusual children.

Skinny, lonely Ravani is the only one who sees the children arrive and move into the house across the street, and he soon finds a comrade in tough, golden-haired Virginia. Despite the local newspaper owner’s assertion that Slaughterville is not the kind of town where exciting things happen, Ravani’s life changes dramatically as Virginia and her chosen family of parentless kids calling themselves the Ragabonds let him in on their secret: They are on the run. When vicious bully Donnie learns that the Ragabonds are being pursued, he blackmails Ravani, who is desperate to protect them and equally desperate for Virginia, his first friend, to stay. She introduces him to the quietly revolutionary idea that things don’t have to be the way they’ve always been. The omniscient narrative voice is a strong presence throughout, drawing readers’ attention to themes including choices that make a difference, connections between people (“Sometimes, when two souls find each other in the darkness, the darkness goes away”), deciding who you want to be and not letting others define you, and the importance of home and family. Brief chapters from the perspective of the man hunting the Ragabonds ratchet up the suspense, culminating in an exciting sequence of events followed by a heartwarming ending. All main characters are coded White.

A story of fierce friendship, bravery, loyalty, and finding—or making—a place to belong. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-19672-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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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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