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THE HIDDEN KNIFE

A veritable buffet of fantasy conventions.

A gifted heroine must fulfill her destiny, no matter how fraught.

Vicky is the middle daughter of Kat Wardrop, a notorious ex-Raven guard of Queen Evangeline—and the only one to ever leave her service. Advised by a shadowy group called the Collective, the queen wants new Raven recruits to attend the Hogwarts-like Corvus School for the Artfully Inclined. As her daughter shows prowess in both combat and magic, Kat wants to shelter Vicky from Corvus and let her choose her own path. When a sudden and devastating event forces Vicky into attending the school after all, she, desperate with grief, makes a rash decision that could alter the fate of the entire kingdom. Marr’s splashy offering is packed full of an extensive array of beloved fantasy tropes ranging from mystical creatures like gargoyles and kelpies to a magical boarding school, alchemists, thieves, and portals to other worlds. While certainly a crowd pleaser, the plotting tends toward being overcrowded to the point of cliché, but the fast-paced chapters, each narrated from a different point of view, help move everything along. Echoing elements from series like Harry Potter and Nevermoor, and even Disney’s Frozen franchise, this will be popular with a wide swath of readers. Main characters read as White.

A veritable buffet of fantasy conventions. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-51852-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

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

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

From the First Cat in Space series , Vol. 1

Epic lunacy.

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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