JACK PLANK TELLS TALES

Babbitt’s first offering in 25 years does not disappoint. Jack’s pirate crew has fallen on hard times, and as Jack prefers not to take part in the plundering and so contributes the least to their profits, the crew decides that they have to let him go. Jack gets a room at Mrs. Delfresno’s inn and eagerly begins to look for a second career. However, at the end of each day, Jack returns to the inn disappointed and still jobless. Each evening he explains to Mrs. Delfresno and the other boarders why he simply cannot work as a farmer, or a baker, or a fisherman, or, it seems, anything else. And each explanation is somehow connected to a riveting story from his days as a pirate. Jack’s reason, for instance, that he cannot possibly work as a fisherman, is that one of his pirate cohorts, Figley, had morphed into an octopus in the light of the full moon, and for all Jack knows, the fellow might very well still be swimming around somewhere. Jack spins other yarns about fortune tellers, mummy hands, trolls and even a girl who grew up as a seagull. By the final page, it’s obvious what Jack (and Babbitt) can do better than almost anyone else—tell a really good story. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-545-00496-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

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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KENNY & THE DRAGON

Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—“Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem”—DiTerlizzi dials down the original’s violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight’s “Oriental language”) in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author’s finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3977-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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