A solid middle-grade read.

UNDER THEIR SKIN

A pair of twins can’t resist disobeying their parents when they learn that their family has a secret—from them.

Eryn and Nick, 12-year-old fraternal twins, have easily coped with their parents’ divorce. When their mom announces she’s getting married again, however, they’re upset to learn that they’ll be moving into a new house—and they’re even more upset when she tells them that they are not allowed even to meet their new stepfather’s children, Ava and Jackson. Worse, they overhear their mother saying that there’s something about their new stepsiblings that would put Eryn and Nick in danger if they ever discovered it. Naturally, Eryn and Nick are compelled to investigate. But the secret does indeed bring danger and has consequences far beyond their own two lives. Haddix begins this new duology with two new characters that appear, at this stage at least, to be a bit less annoyingly impulsive than her protagonists in her recent Missing series. Eryn and Nick are relatively thoughtful as they find themselves in a situation so precarious they cannot even allow their own parents to know what they have discovered. As usual, Haddix demonstrates plenty of emotional insight; young readers easily will see themselves in these characters. Suspense builds up to the last page, when yet another secret leaves readers hanging for the conclusion.

A solid middle-grade read. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1758-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

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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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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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