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From the Mission Multiverse series , Vol. 2

Savvy fun fit for any universe.

Back on their own planet, a group of middle school friends aren’t done trying to save the multiverse—and the multiverse isn’t done with them either.

After an unexpected detour at the tail end of their previous adventure, Dev Khatri, Maeve Greene, Tessa Hawthorne-Scott, Lewis Wynner, and Isaiah Yoon have made their way back to central Ohio’s Conroy Middle School and their lives on Earth, a Dimension14 planet. But unbeknown to the Conroy Cadets marching band members, Maeve’s doppelgänger, Em, has tagged along, escaping the wasteland universe she’d been banished to. While being home and reuniting with family in a more familiar, less giant monster–filled environment has its perks, the pull for the original five kids—plus Tessa’s twin, Zoey, who resents being secretly replaced in the first book—to return to their multiversal hijinks is strong. Not to mention that Em’s constant plotting to get back in the good graces of her planet-destroying family may mean major threats from before are still at play. The warm rapport and slapstick humor the Cadets share is even stronger in this second series entry, as they’ve matured in their grasp of all things multiverse while maintaining an endearing commitment to middle school concerns. Band practice is just as important as closing interdimensional holes, and if a so-called evil doppelgänger can offer a caring, world-shattering touch when needed, hypercompetitive twin sisters might be able to figure it out too. Ethnicity is largely cued through names.

Savvy fun fit for any universe. (Science fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4825-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

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

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 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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