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This hopeful adventure leaves an indelible mark.

A rare disorder elicits fear in a young Black artist with a unique sense of the world.

Seventh grader Etta’s Quiet Days are becoming more frequent and, frankly, irritating since her “maybe-diagnosis” of Ménière’s disease in both her ears. Her parents are monitoring her diet, vigilant about stressors, and learning ASL. In contrast to Etta’s Loud Days, not being able to hear sometimes makes it easier to focus on her comic book about Invincible Girl (the novel includes some enticing panels featuring Etta’s work). But, as peculiar weather patterns begin to overwhelm her Chicago neighborhood and exacerbate her allergies, the corresponding tinnitus and vertigo as well as the increased anxiety from everyone around her leave Etta feeling hopeless. Even meeting Eleazar, an artsy new Colombian friend with an adorable goldendoodle, leads to doubts about her abilities to communicate—Eleazar is also still learning English—and her future with Ménière’s. When Eleazar’s dog gets lost on a magical train that is linked to the weird weather, the two must traverse the train cars, solve mysteries, and overcome their fears to fix what’s broken and heal what can’t be fixed. Just like the magical challenges, their journey yields great emotional rewards. Even as Etta and Eleazar make new connections, losses—of family, hearing, and home—are somber reminders of life’s challenges. With snappy narration that’s rich in sensory detail and metaphor, readers progress through well-paced storytelling that is ethereal and artfully inclusive.

This hopeful adventure leaves an indelible mark. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6837-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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