THE MOON IS UP

From the Lumberjanes Novels series , Vol. 2

The scouts of Roanoke cabin return for new sleep-away-camp shenanigans.

At Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for Hardcore Lady-Types, girls are preparing for campwide Galaxy Wars, a space-themed competition. The inhabitants of Roanoke cabin—Mal, Molly, April, Jo, and Ripley—feel the pressure to be victorious, and not just in the contest. Science-loving Jo has received an offer from a prestigious astronomy program that would mean she would have to leave her friends and all the fun behind; musical Mal is having trouble passing the multi-instrument test to earn a Tha’s Accordion to You badge and begins to question her tuneful talents. Meanwhile, scrappy Ripley befriends a cheese-obsessed, talking mouse with a secret. As their own anxieties mount and the pressure to win Galaxy Wars intensifies, will the girls be able to handle it all? This second volume in the middle-grade series maintains all of the best elements of both its prose predecessor and its comics roots, from its zippy signature argot (bons mots such as “Where the Roxane Gay are you going?”) to a diverse cast of characters. Out of the five main protagonists, three are girls of color (although not explicitly stated in this volume), and two of them—Mal and Molly—are a harmonious and supportive couple; a secondary character at the camp is nonbinary. In today’s highly competitive world, the insistence that having fun trumps winning is a delightful departure.

More feisty feminist fun. (Fantasy. 7-14)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2868-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

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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The young folk and (of course) the animals are engagingly wrought in this tale with a strong ecological message.

WILLODEEN

An orphan loner’s small town faces a hard future after it unwittingly disrupts a natural cycle.

Willodeen is lucky that elderly retired thespians Mae and Birdie took her in after the wildfire that killed her parents and brother, not only because they’re a loving couple, but because they let her roam the woods in search of increasingly rare screechers—creatures so vile-tempered and stinky that the village elders of Perchance have put a bounty on them. The elders have other worries, though: The migratory hummingbears that have long nested in the area, drawing tourists to the lucrative annual Autumn Faire, have likewise nearly vanished. Could there be a connection? If there is, Willodeen is just the person to find it—but who would believe her? Applegate’s characters speak in pronouncements about life and nature that sometimes seem to address readers more than other characters, but the winsome illustrations lighten the thematic load. Screechers appear much like comically fierce warthogs and hummingbears, as small teddies with wings. Applegate traces a burgeoning friendship between her traumatized protagonist and Connor, a young artist who turns found materials into small animals so realistic that one actually comes to life. In the end, the townsfolk do listen and pitch in to make amends. Red-haired, gray-eyed Willodeen is cued as White; Connor has brown skin, and other human characters read as White by default.

The young folk and (of course) the animals are engagingly wrought in this tale with a strong ecological message. (Eco-fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-14740-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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