A riotous thigh-slapper with plenty of Toy Story in its DNA.

In a near-future “doll-eat-doll” world, three smart but defective toys join forces to escape the rubbish bin and fight crime.

Hardly have Dan, a Snugallific Cuddlestar teddy so uncontrollably strong that the hugs he is programmed to give tend to have gruesome results, and truculent Arabella, a Loadasmiles Sunshine rag doll, escaped from the Snaztacular Ultrafun factory and met up with Flax, a nattily attired police bunny missing a significant portion of his anatomy, than all three are collared by the mysterious Department of Secret Affairs to form a special “Spy Toys” unit. Their first assignment, as bodyguards for a senator’s 8-year-old son, Sam, nearly ends in catastrophe when the lad is kidnapped by Rusty Flumptrunk, an elephantine ex–cereal company mascot who’s turned crime lord, and strapped to a giant mayonnaise bomb. The tale takes an ugly turn at the climax, when the toys overcome Flumptrunk by taking advantage of his peanut allergy to leave him in a state of anaphylactic shock. Otherwise, Powers dishes up a comical romp with central characters who display brains as well as brawn and, while learning how to live with disabilities, also figure out how to leverage them to save both the lad and the local community from awful fates. Wesson’s frequent, blocky cartoon illustrations and vignettes add appropriately wacky visual notes. Human and humanoid figures are all white.

A riotous thigh-slapper with plenty of Toy Story in its DNA. (Crime comedy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-665-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

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 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014


A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

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: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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