The quirkiness of Carman’s tale could easily become too familiar, but he pulls new rabbits out of his storytelling sleeve...

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THE FIELD OF WACKY INVENTIONS

From the Floors series , Vol. 3

Another topsy-turvy adventure takes place in this last episode in Carman’s hotel trilogy.

This is really a trilogy that’s best read from the beginning, as the beguiling nature of the hotels being assembled here—top floors only, all secret chambers except to heroes Leo and Remi—delivered by great airships, needs some explaining. Carman has so many balls in the air that it is good to have background, but nimble readers should be able to pick up where things are and enjoy this exploration through the titular field of wacky inventions and accompanying riddles. It’s all a challenge set forth before the managers of Merganzer D. Whippet’s hotels to see who will “run all my hotels. I’m expanding into Europe. And Japan. The Ukraine is very promising.” But Whippet is a thoroughly lovely character, not some money-grubber, and the contest to see who will run the grand hotel is both droll and exciting. There is also, happily reported, his cast of queer and delightful players, now including a miniature T. Rex and a girl stowaway, Lucy, who add more to the storyline than any battery of flamethrowers or homicidal roller-coaster rides. As in the two previous volumes, the writing is fluid, with quiet stretches interrupted by rapids and whirlpools.

The quirkiness of Carman’s tale could easily become too familiar, but he pulls new rabbits out of his storytelling sleeve pretty much with each turn of the page, keeping them turning. (Adventure. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-25521-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.

ALI CROSS

The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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