OTTO TATTERCOAT AND THE FOREST OF LOST THINGS

When Otto’s mother disappears shortly after the pair arrives in Hodeldorf—“the coldest city in the world”—Otto meets an orphaned girl named Nim, and a series of adventures ensues.

The book evokes the worlds of Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, and traditional fairy tales. The third-person narrative meanders gracefully among the points of view of an omniscient narrator, Otto, and Nim. Naïve, kindhearted Otto is easily duped into servitude in the boot-polish factory of villainous Frau Ferber. Nim, motivated by guilt from an earlier encounter with Otto, manages to rescue him—and Otto expands his goal of finding his mother to rescuing all of Frau Ferber’s child labor force. Nim helps Otto join the tattercoats, a band of homeless children with a strict code of honor. Two of its five rules state that they must steal only what they need and that no one may possess more than one coat—despite the atrocious cold that forces them to sleep near people’s chimneys. Other than two brief, death-from-freezing descriptions, threatened dangers are frequent but violence rare; baddies meet imaginative but nonfatal justice. A misunderstood ex-tattercoat named Blink, a rat named Nibbles, and numerous forest denizens add humor and/or menace to an already engrossing tale. The light tone assures young readers that good will prevail over bad and that sometimes people just have to venture into the woods. All characters seem to be white.

Both charming and wise. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51527-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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