THE KILLER UNDERPANTS

Not even his encounter with a spectral Poltergoose (2002) prepares Jiggy McCue—or readers—for his next challenge: underwear with a mind of its own. Jiggy really has only himself to blame; discovering that he likes to wear each pair of briefs until it sloughs off, his Mom marches him to the flea market and buys him new ones that are both hideously ugly and, once donned, cling so stubbornly that nothing can pry them off. Worse yet, they not only bestow fierce, unscratchable itches, but at unpredictable times give anything Jiffy says the force of an irresistible command—as he finds out after blithely bidding buddy Pete to go flush his head in the toilet. As it turns out, the nasty knickers are the work of Neville the Devil, a junior Horned One out to make his mark on the world, “ ‘starting at the bottom,’ ” as he puts it. Luckily, Neville’s handiwork has an herbal Achilles’ heel, and Jiggy manages to lose the deadly drawers at last—only to see dismaying evidence that they’ve taken up residence within the trousers of brutish classmate Eejit Atkins. Replete with arch innuendo and pants-down misadventures that would make anyone but the irrepressible Jiggy want to crawl into a hole to die of embarrassment, this snappy episode will fly off library shelves on the, er, coattails of Captain Underpants. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-525-46897-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

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NIM'S ISLAND

A child finds that being alone in a tiny tropical paradise has its ups and downs in this appealingly offbeat tale from the Australian author of Peeling the Onion (1999). Though her mother is long dead and her scientist father Jack has just sailed off on a quick expedition to gather plankton, Nim is anything but lonely on her small island home. Not only does she have constant companions in Selkie, a sea lion, and a marine iguana named Fred, but Chica, a green turtle, has just arrived for an annual egg-laying—and, through the solar-powered laptop, she has even made a new e-mail friend in famed adventure novelist Alex Rover. Then a string of mishaps darkens Nim’s sunny skies: her father loses rudder and dish antenna in a storm; a tourist ship that was involved in her mother’s death appears off the island’s reefs; and, running down a volcanic slope, Nim takes a nasty spill that leaves her feverish, with an infected knee. Though she lives halfway around the world and is in reality a decidedly unadventurous urbanite, Alex, short for “Alexandra,” sets off to the rescue, arriving in the midst of another storm that requires Nim and companions to rescue her. Once Jack brings his battered boat limping home, the stage is set for sunny days again. Plenty of comic, freely-sketched line drawings help to keep the tone light, and Nim, with her unusual associates and just-right mix of self-reliance and vulnerability, makes a character young readers won’t soon tire of. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81123-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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BEOWULF

“Hear, and listen well, my friends, and I will tell you a tale that has been told for a thousand years and more.” It’s not exactly a rarely told tale, either, though this complete rendition is distinguished by both handsome packaging and a prose narrative that artfully mixes alliterative language reminiscent of the original, with currently topical references to, for instance, Grendel’s “endless terror raids,” and the “holocaust at Heorot.” Along with being printed on heavy stock and surrounded by braided borders, the text is paired to colorful scenes featuring a small human warrior squaring off with a succession of grimacing but not very frightening monsters in battles marked by but a few discreet splashes of blood. Morpurgo puts his finger on the story’s enduring appeal—“we still fear the evil that stalks out there in the darkness . . . ”—but offers a version unlikely to trouble the sleep of more sensitive readers or listeners. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-3206-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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