Weaknesses aside, fans of Percy Jackson will devour this and hope that the gods send a sequel.

WHO LET THE GODS OUT?

A semiorphaned boy accidentally discovers that the gods are real and finds himself drawn into an ancient mythological war with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Sound familiar?

Abandoned by his father, Elliot Hooper, a 12-year-old English white boy, struggles to care for his ailing mother, save their ancestral farm from being sold to a greedy real estate developer, and not fail out of school. When Virgo, the beautiful, immortal goddess from the Greek zodiac, crash-lands in Elliot’s cowshed, he is drawn into her mission to feed a godly prisoner held underneath Stonehenge, mistakenly unleashing an ancient evil that threatens the mortal and immortal realms. Evans’ debut novel is a breathless roller-coaster ride taking readers on a mythological tour of Elysium, the Underworld, and everything in between. Drawing heavily on stylistic elements reminiscent of Rick Riordan with a hint of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, the author’s godly characters are a modern family whose dysfunction would make Jerry Springer salivate. Their antics anchor the story’s humor, but otherworldly elements such as the What’s What guidebook to universal knowledge are less finely drawn. Elliot’s struggles and clear motivations create genuine appeal, but other characters—particularly the perfectionist Virgo—remain opaque and fit awkwardly into the narrative.

Weaknesses aside, fans of Percy Jackson will devour this and hope that the gods send a sequel. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-06556-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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