Layers, nuance, wit and a thumping good story make this a must-read.

THE LUCK UGLIES

From the Luck Uglies series , Vol. 1

A sparkling middle-grade fantasy opens a trilogy.

Rye O’Chanter is a somewhat clumsy 11-year-old who enjoys hijinks with best friends Quinn and Folly on the roofs and lanes of Village Drowning, a dark, medieval-feeling town. It’s run by a nasty, self-absorbed earl and surrounded by bogs that have spawned a legend of Bog Noblins—vile beasts who eat unwary villagers and adorn themselves with necklaces made out of said villagers’ feet. Many years earlier, a secret society of protectors named Luck Uglies had fought and vanquished the Bog Noblins, and now, neither monsters nor secret society members exist. Or do they? When a real, not-just-legend, Bog Noblin shows up and begins to terrorize Village Drowning, old fears as well as old secrets are resurrected. Debut author Durham spins a tale of intrigue and adventure peopled with characters so individually full of both goodness and flaws that readers will immediately relate. It is this nuance of character that raises the narrative above the trope of a good-vs.-evil storyline and into richer, more layered territory. Durham combines intelligent writing that does not talk down to the intended audience with an innocent charm—a concoction that is sure to captivate readers and make them thankful that this is Book 1 of a trilogy.

 Layers, nuance, wit and a thumping good story make this a must-read. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-227150-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A voyage both singular and universal, marked by sharply felt risks and rewards and deep waters beneath.

NORTHWIND

A solitary young traveler paddles through an archipelago of natural, often dangerous, wonders, learning as he goes.

Though the metaphorical layer lies barely beneath the surface in this short novel, Paulsen’s spare prose and legendary knowledge of the challenges and techniques of wilderness survival make the journey through a landscape that evokes historical Scandinavia compelling reading. Sole survivor—and that just barely—of the gruesomely depicted cholera that sweeps through his camp, 12-year-old Leif comes away with a dugout canoe, a few basic outdoor skills, and the command from a dying, respected elder to head north. Subsisting largely on blackberries and salmon, he travels a winding route through fjords and a seemingly endless string of islets and inlets where he finds both danger and delight in searching for food and shelter, literally coming face to face with bears and whales, struggling to survive a deadly tidal whirlpool, and coming to understand the importance of seeing and learning from the ways and rhythms of “this place and all places that will come to me.” Calling on memories, Paulsen writes in an autobiographical afterword of his Norwegian immigrant grandmother’s tales. References to Odin and whalers give the setting a timelessly folkloric feeling. Final art not seen.

A voyage both singular and universal, marked by sharply felt risks and rewards and deep waters beneath. (Historical adventure. 9-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-31420-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more