Easy reading with a detailed magical system involving the arts and sacred geometry—an excellent spark to learning more about...

WARRIOR GENIUS

From the Rebel Geniuses series , Vol. 2

Twelve-year-old Giacomo, his friends, and their Geniuses—magical familiars—survived a huge battle and are now on their way to find the second of three Sacred Tools after series opener Rebel Genius (2016).

In the second installment of the Rebel Geniuses series, DiMartino keeps a swift pace as readers follow the group from the Renaissance Italy–inspired Zizzola to the India-inspired Rachana. The group must stay ahead of the tyrannical Nerezza, her terrifying Genius, and her armies and also convince Rachana—longtime enemies of Zizzola, now under truce—to let them in and back out again with a second Sacred Tool. The four boys, two girls, and their elderly teacher each have strengths that contribute to the group, aided by their charming bird Geniuses. While Giacomo is the main protagonist, there is enough perspective shifting for readers to get to know each character via thought, deed, and motivation. The Rachanans are described as dark, dangerous people but only through the lens of Zizzolans. Readers see more: men and women warriors both skilled and compassionate, a deep spiritual system, and rich culture—including flying horse Geniuses! Zanobius, a Tulpa, or man-made humanoid, has some great scenes in the story as he grapples with his violent past and benevolent present. There are moments of dark horror that give weight to action scenes, tempered by relief when they’re past.

Easy reading with a detailed magical system involving the arts and sacred geometry—an excellent spark to learning more about both in the real world. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-337-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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