A pensive and whimsical work that Twain would applaud.

THE PURLOINING OF PRINCE OLEOMARGARINE

This recently discovered Twain fairy tale finds life as a picture book.

Completing a story penned by arguably America’s greatest author is no easy feat, but the Caldecott-winning author-illustrator (and husband-wife) team proves more than equal to the task, transforming Twain’s jotted notes in an 1879 journal entry about a story told to his daughters into a beautifully illustrated fable that showcases the exemplary talents of all three artists. The tale follows the adventures of Johnny, a kindhearted African-American child being raised by his cruel grandfather. Forced to sell his only friend—a pet chicken—Johnny, rather like Jack before him, instead acquires seeds, the flowers from which enable him to converse with animals. When Prince Oleomargarine—the kingdom’s heir—is kidnapped, Johnny and his animal friends mount a rescue. Interwoven through the fairy tale is a series of author’s notes detailing a fictitious meeting between Twain and the author, from which this story emerges. Twain’s presence in the narrative allows Philip Stead to both acknowledge his literary debt and retain the freedom to make the tale his own. He is aided by Erin Stead’s sublime print illustrations, which demonstrate her masterful ability to create physical presence and characters’ emotions as well as landscapes; the muted greens, soft blues, and light pinkish-brown hues of her double-page spreads set a magical tone for a world that mirrors, but is not quite, our own.

A pensive and whimsical work that Twain would applaud. (Picture book. 8-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52322-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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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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