THIS IS WAR

From the Cats vs. Robots series , Vol. 1

The Great Feline Empire has been at war with the Robot Empire for centuries; now a technological breakthrough in the Wengrod family lab puts Earth at the center of the conflict.

Pounce de Leon has learned from Earth cat operative OB_1_Catno_B (nicknamed “Obi”) that a computer chip has been developed on Earth that could extend cat lives beyond nine. Sir Beeps-a-Lot has heard reports of something similar from a mole in Earth company GloboTech; it can also offer infinite power to robots. Both empires want that chip. Meanwhile, fraternal twins Min Wengrod and her cat-loving brother, Max, are preparing for a robot battle and a video game–design contest, respectively. While their scientist parents are in China, their GloboTech-created household AI attempts to use the family’s helper robots to steal the chip while Obi enlists Stu and Scout, Max’s rescue kittens, to do the same. It’s a creative premise for a series opener, but it comes to naught thanks to multiple plot holes and flat, stock characters. (One exception to the latter is Latinx cousin and babysitter Javi, whose nonbinary gender identification is used as a message-y plot device. The Wengrods are otherwise ethnically undefined.) The alternation of perspective between robots and cats results in a great deal of repetition, and the nonsensical central conflict (cats like naps and don’t follow rules; robots love rules) is a flimsy nail on which to hang a too-lengthy novel, let alone a series.

Skip. (Science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266570-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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