From the LEGO Nexo Knights series , Vol. 1

Perhaps there is appeal for dyed-in-the-wool fans, but it’s not likely to make converts

A misfit toy strives to fit in at his new academy.

A spinoff of the animated NEXO KNIGHTS and the eponymous toy line introduces Fletcher, a plucky country orphan off to train at the famous Knights' Academy. Once he arrives at the school, he quickly befriends Izzy, a precocious girl whose brother is a famous alumnus. On an academically mandated scavenger hunt, the pair unearths a strange shield that they believe harbors beneficial powers. Once in possession of the mysterious relic, they learn that the wicked Baron von Bludgeonous is pursuing them, determined to steal the shield and use its power to unleash an unspeakable evil. Will the two yellow underdogs (they are Legos, after all) be able to rise up and save not only their academy, but also the entire kingdom? Superficiality is the order of the day; for example, Fletcher has a mystical, innate force guiding his tough decisions—a gut feeling—that is literally in his gut. Short chapters carry the flimsy and predictable adventure, which seems better suited for its animated counterpart than a prose novel. Littered with name-dropping references to the many facets of the franchise, this feels like a protracted commercial lacking the visual interest of the cartoon or the creativity of the building sets. While certainly current, once the next Lego darling is introduced, this flash in the pan will be relegated to obscurity.

Perhaps there is appeal for dyed-in-the-wool fans, but it’s not likely to make converts . (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-338-04183-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016


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


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