A soldier’s stubborn persistence in a sanitized but still interesting adventure.


From the Great Escapes series

The tale of a real-life pilot’s many attempts to escape from German prisoner-of-war camps in World War II.

Bill Ash, a poor, white Texas man, is so eager to fight Nazis that he can’t wait for America. Instead, more than a year before the United States joins the war, Bill goes to Canada and enlists in the Royal Air Force. He loves being a Spitfire pilot, but he’s soon shot down in France and, after some time in hiding, is sent to Stalag Luft III, a POW camp. Protected by the Geneva Conventions, the POWs are treated much better than Nazi prisoners in concentration camps or death camps (explained in one of several historical sidebars). That doesn’t mean Bill is content to stay safely imprisoned, however. Desperate to get back to the fighting, he unsuccessfully attempts to escape from imprisonment time and time again even as the Nazis punish him with time in “the cooler.” Some of his attempts are merely opportunistic, such as dashing from a work detail for freedom. Others are elaborate, such as a pleasantly gross tale of digging a tunnel underneath the latrines, complete with ingenious contraptions jury-rigged from Red Cross relief parcels. With the POWs’ (historically accurate) insulation from the war’s atrocities, this becomes a mostly low-stakes, exciting tale of wartime derring-do. Invented dialogue tips this story over into fiction.

A soldier’s stubborn persistence in a sanitized but still interesting adventure. (author’s note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-286036-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Dizzyingly silly.


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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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: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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