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A bit overlong and slapdash-feeling, but amiable.

Sundry creatures and an affable aspiring hero stumble and bumble around a magically infused landscape.

Skarper the goblin lives in one of seven ruined towers surrounding an ancient, sealed-up Keep. Goblin gangs (including Skarper’s) have overrun the towers, fighting each other and scrambling for treasures. As Skarper has learned to read the lettuce (letters) that make up worms (words) and form burks (books)—other goblins use burks as “bumwipe”—he’s declared “too clever by half” and launched sky-high from a “bratapult.” He survives and meets Henwyn, a rather dimwitted human boy who’d rather be a hero than a cheesewright and seeks “evils to fight: proper ones, not made of cheese.” Skarper, Henwyn and others—including a giant, three “self-styled sorcerers” and a gray-haired princess in her 40s who nonetheless needs rescuing (some things never change)—blunder around, fighting baddies while at odds with one another’s goals. Some workings go unexplained (how does a one-legged goblin move around? How do characters reach a ship atop a tower?). In a device that doesn’t always work, playful humor (Henwyn is “stout of heart and damp of socks”) contrasts with the formal epic-fantasy voice Reeve uses for background (“the lands of the west, where men are few and some of the old magic lingers”). That exposition feels far distant, yet it’s key to the climax, which features the Keep imploding like Tolkien’s Barad-dûr.

A bit overlong and slapdash-feeling, but amiable. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-22220-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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