You know it’s a “tockingly” good steampunk mystery when the dastardly escaped criminals who stole from Queen Victoria are...

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MOONLOCKET

From the Cogheart Adventures series , Vol. 2

Robert, Lily, and Lily’s mechanimal wind-up fox, Malkin, have been living together since the adventures that killed Robert’s father and revealed Lily’s mechanical heart (Cogheart, 2018).

Lily is practically Robert’s family, and he has nearly settled down to that reality, but how can he completely when there are so many questions about his own life? Where is his mother, Selena, who vanished when Robert was just a baby? Why is vicious escapologist and diamond thief Jack Door on the lam from prison, lurking around the ruins of Robert’s old home? Why is Jack so interested in Selena? Perhaps Robert can find some answers in a half-moon locket he discovers, a portrait of his mother within and odd letters engraved on the moon’s face. Lily is always happy to help, especially if it means dangerous adventuring aboard zeppelins with inadequate adult supervision. There are plenty of cinematic adventures in this seemingly all-white Victorian England (including a death-defying drop from the skies and a well-paced sewage flood), and there’s enough information for readers to decrypt some of the codes. With lots of thrilling dashing about, fleeing from blackguards, and enjoyable wordplay, this should satisfy genre fans.

You know it’s a “tockingly” good steampunk mystery when the dastardly escaped criminals who stole from Queen Victoria are somehow connected to the hero’s mysterious, long-lost mother. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63163-375-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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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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