A wildly imaginative, richly textured, and complex fantasy.

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THE FEARLESS TRAVELERS' GUIDE TO WICKED PLACES

An insecure young girl’s quest for her missing mother leads her to Dreamlands, a parallel world of incredible dreams, dark nightmares, and dangerous deceptions.

An “uncommon-looking twelve-year-old girl” with silver-blonde hair and amber eyes, Nell Perkins is able to see truths others ignore. After three local women mysteriously disappear, Nell insists they’ve been stolen by an ominous purple cloud. Then she witnesses the cloud sweeping her mother, Rose, away, leaving behind a small golden bird that Nell realizes is really Rose transformed. Determined to save Rose, Nell encounters Duke Badger, a Fearless Traveler, sworn to help those journeying to Dreamlands. Badger explains that Rose and the other missing women have been changed into birds by the Dark Daughters, “an ancient tribe of Nightmares.” Only Ravenhead, an endangered Dreamer, can change Rose back to human form. With Badger as her remarkable guide, Nell embarks on a perilous quest to the Wicked Places, traversing surreal landscapes and confronting bizarre creatures, hoping against the odds to outmaneuver the Dark Daughters and save her mother. Throughout the relentlessly paced, endlessly twisting plot, remarkable Nell emerges a “fearless traveler” in her own right. Though race is referred to, the book’s default is white.

A wildly imaginative, richly textured, and complex fantasy. (map) (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62370-799-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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