The final pages definitely set up volume three, so a sequel can't be far... far away.


From the Jacob Wonderbar series , Vol. 2

What do you do after nearly breaking the universe? Run for president!

Seventh-grader Jacob Wonderbar and his best friends Sarah and Dexter had one wild adventure across space and time last year (Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space KAPOW, 2011). Jacob discovered that his missing dad might be in space among the Astrals, but after he caused the great space kapow, the king of the universe sent the trio back to Earth. Now the king has nominated Jacob to run for president of the universe against Prince (and erstwhile space pirate) Mick Cracken, who hates Jacob. Jacob promises to clean up his act and avoid his signature pranks, but Mick promises corruption and lies. Both candidates must compete in three trials and make appearances and speeches across the cosmos. Jacob also has to dodge Mick's "Earther"-hating soldiers from the planet Valkyrie. When Princess Catalina declares herself Jacob's running mate and Sarah leaves Jacob's campaign for Mick's, it's anyone's game. Who will win? And will the Space Chimps ever get their bananas? Bransford's second slapstick space saga is as much fun as the first. Couched in the space silliness is a surprisingly sharp satire of American electoral shenanigans, making the book especially timely.

The final pages definitely set up volume three, so a sequel can't be far... far away. (Science fiction/humor. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3538-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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Imaginative, fast-paced, and fun.


From the Talespinners series , Vol. 1

Character Indira Story lives in the fictional town of Origin and aspires to a plot of her own.

She works hard to make her dream come true: to travel to the city of Fable and attend Protagonist Preparatory, a school where famous characters such as Alice (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Romeo Montague train aspirants to become successful characters in actual stories. Ultimately, succeeding at Protagonist Preparatory would result in Indira’s being chosen by an Author in the Real World for their novel. Indira is determined to become a protagonist so that she can find her brother, David, a laborer in the town of Quiver, where he mines story nuggets. However, Indira fails her audition and begins to train as a side character. To make matters worse, her best efforts at school are sabotaged, and Fable itself is threatened. The question arises: Can a side character become a hero? Reintgen’s middle-grade debut is at once a fantastic adventure and a tribute to famous and popular literature. The plot feels rushed at times, but witty references—to literary characters and elements of the act of reading itself, like dog ears (envisioned as one-eared dogs who steal watches from anthropomorphic bookmarks )—make this novel enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny. There is nothing intrinsically Indian about brown-skinned Indira (as her name suggests but as her equally brown-skinned brother’s does not), but her-far-from positive experiences remind readers of the importance of working hard at their own stories.

Imaginative, fast-paced, and fun. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-64668-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Reflective children will revel in this thought-provoking world.


From the Teddies Saga series , Vol. 1

The journey to find a child becomes an existential quest for an abandoned teddy bear.

Buddy is not just any stuffed bear, but a blue Furrington Teddy with a Real Silk Heart. So why did he wake up in a landfill with other Furringtons of varying hues? A more pressing matter, however, is escaping Trashland and its murderous gulls and bulldozers. Yearning to connect with a child and achieve a state of peaceful Forever Sleep, Buddy and his new friends of differing temperaments and gifts set out on a harrowing journey through the city to find children who will want them. As they encounter other Furringtons in disarray, this opener in The Teddies Saga series becomes a mystery about why these teddies are being harmed in the first place. While the visceral narrative follows the teddy troupe’s adventurous challenges and survival, its focus is on Buddy’s inner struggles as he ponders identity, leadership, and other existential dilemmas. Kraus doesn’t shy away from anger, fear, death, and other dark subjects; instead they become opportunities for growth in difficult environments. Cai’s intense, slightly nightmarish grayscale illustrations add immeasurably to the text. Reminiscent of Watership Down in theme and structure, the novel’s intermittent teddy creation stories also become parables of a moral code and extend the epic story arc. A cliffhanger ending sets the scene for the next installment.

Reflective children will revel in this thought-provoking world. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22440-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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