An entertaining tale of action, courage and a boy growing up.

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SWING ISLAND

POWER TO SURVIVE

In Bennet-Woods’ first in a planned series, a boy finds adventure in a mystical and sometimes dangerous jungle land.

When Orehon is 12, he chases his pet monkey after it descends from the treetops where Orehon, his family and his tribe dwell. He follows the monkey to the forest floor, a place he has been warned about since he was a child, but they both return home unharmed. Instead of being frightened, Orehon is filled with a sense of bravery. This inspires him when he next goes hunting. Orehon stumbles upon a giant golden eagle and manages to take one of its feathers. He goes to see Tagla, a former tribe chief, who is a fascinating old man with a split personality. The chief warns Orehon about the magic of the feather: Its power is great and terrible, depending on the character of its possessor. This fills Orehon with a quiet sense of confidence, although he keeps the feather a secret. His self-assurance aids him when his father announces that the family will become farmers instead of nomadic hunters. Orehon’s father explains they have lived as nomadic hunters in order to protect his mom’s true identity: She is daughter of a chief. Despite the precaution, a kidnapper's ring takes Chief Tagla and two of Orehon’s neighbors. The boy bravely tracks them down, is captured, and learns that the kidnappers plan to sell him and his friends as slaves. Although Orehon is young, he handles the situation with as much ingenuity and aplomb as any seasoned hero. The supporting characters are colorful and well-rounded, from the crazy but wise Chief Tagla to the fierce and inquisitive young neighbor girl Weenup, and the treacherous Killican warriors. A light edit would clear up the occasionally clunky prose and errant punctuation errors, but overall this does not distract from the excitement of the story or the imaginative worldbuilding. In the end, mysteries still remain surrounding Orehon’s family, and it seems certain they will be answered as Orehon’s journey continues in future installments. As it stands, Orehon has already proved himself a likable and capable protagonist in an unpredictable and enjoyable world.

An entertaining tale of action, courage and a boy growing up.

Pub Date: July 3, 2006

ISBN: 978-1419639494

Page Count: 314

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2013

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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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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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