A lighthearted middle-grade treatment of new and beloved heroes.


From the Marvel Avengers Assembly series , Vol. 1

After a fight with the Shocker results in Ms. Marvel, aka Kamala Khan, demolishing some New Jersey buildings, she is recruited into the Avengers Institute after-school program.

Helmed by principal Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers, Kamala’s idol and frequent subject of her superhero fan fiction, the program aims to give young heroes the opportunity to explore their powers, build camaraderie with other superheroes, and cultivate much-needed superhero skills. Taught by such luminaries as Beast, She-Hulk (who gives the young heroes a primer on legal responsibilities), Ant-Man, and vice principal (and former villain) Quicksilver, the young Pakistani American hero builds skills and confidence, and she finds friendship with her teammates Miles “Spider-Man” Morales, who’s Afro-Latinx, and Doreen “Squirrel Girl” Green, who’s white. But when other classmates reveal their true, less-scrupulous intentions, Kamala and her friends find themselves in danger in their final academic decathlon. Fans will enjoy the situational humor and banter among characters and their mentors, such as Peter Parker with Miles, and slapstick antics. The story is related in a variety of formats including comics, social media posts, newspaper articles, letters, and text messages (sometimes unclear and at other times revealing too much); it may be hard for some Marvel aficionados to suspend disbelief. Though familiarity with characters’ backstories is not absolutely required, readers new to the franchise may be a little lost without some background knowledge. Readers also meet Kamala’s family, imam Sheikh Abdullah, and friend Nakia; all are Muslim, and some dispense advice based on Islamic stories and sayings.

A lighthearted middle-grade treatment of new and beloved heroes. (Graphic/adventure hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-58725-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Did you like this book?

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


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?