Action, adventure, fantasy, humor and a glimpse of a potential budding romance are all here, making this a great...

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THE KEY

From the Magnificent 12 series , Vol. 3

As in the previous titles (The Call, 2010, and The Trap, 2011), this third installment in the Magnificent 12 series speeds forward with the help of over-the-top action sequences and rapid, clever dialogue.

This episode opens with Mack about to be catapulted and most likely smashed into a wall near Loch Ness, when at the last minute he is saved by French goth-girl Sylvie, who is the half sibling of evil Valin, an ally to the dark forces supporting the rise of the Pale Queen—and both Mack and Sylvie happen to be members of the Magnificent 12, on a quest to obtain the second part of the vital key. And this is how the story progresses, like an urgent, never-ending run-on sentence. With many plot twists, comic diversions involving the Golem standing in for Mack back at home, timely introductions of new characters, explanations of Vargan spells, and just-in-time fantastical feats that save lives and ultimately move the Eiffel Tower from one side of the Seine to the other, readers are in for a most entertaining if often hard-to-fathom tale. Grant’s series flows like a much-hyped Hollywood summer blockbuster: The special effects are impressive, but readers must instantly agree to suspend disbelief.  A website encourages fans to create their own avatars, review characters and settings and keep updated on the latest news about the series.

Action, adventure, fantasy, humor and a glimpse of a potential budding romance are all here, making this a great end-of-summer read. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-183370-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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