Lots of laffs…or at least wet and dry heaves.


From the Garbage Pail Kids series , Vol. 1

Ten children chosen from a teeming crew of trading-card characters with personal-hygiene issues shamble into print.

Parodying the Cabbage Patch Kids and subject since the 1980s to various expansions and reboots, the chubby-cheeked characters—all paper white in the monochrome cast list and frequent illustrations—bear suggestive names like Luke Puke, Rob Slob, and Babbling Brooke; exhibit gross and slovenly behavior; and live together in appalling filth. With all this built-in child appeal, who better to present their misadventures in prose than Stine, the creator of the redolent Rotten School series (and one or two others)? Here, Adam Bomb (his head explodes) and five other housemates trade off narrative duties in a set of short-attention-span episodes. These feature an all-booger science project, middle school hijinks (“ ‘Hey, check it out!’ Wacky Jackie called, and held up her clay creation. ‘What is that?’ Mrs. Hooping-Koff asked. Jackie grinned. ‘It’s a body part! Guess what it is?’ ”), an abusive Rent-a-Mom hired to fend off the snoopy neighboring Perfects, and, for occasional diversions, repeated failures of favorite TV superhero Jonny Pantsfalldown to nab butt-crack–flashing supervillain Big Bootus. By the end, the Perfects and the Rent-a-Mom are both sent packing. “But we’re not bad kids,” Adam Bomb explains. “We just don’t know any better.” Maybe young readers will.

Lots of laffs…or at least wet and dry heaves. (stickers) (Media tie-in/fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4361-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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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

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A solid series starter for tinkerers and adventurers alike.


Even robot cats have a mind of their own.

All 12-year-old Canadian Lacey Chu’s ever wanted was to become a companioneer like her idol, Monica Chan, co-founder of the largest tech firm in North America, Moncha Corp., and mastermind behind the baku. Bakus, “robotic pets with all the features of a smartphone,” revolutionized society and how people interact with technology. As a companioneer, Lacey could work on bakus: designing, innovating, and building. When she receives a grant rejection from Profectus Academy of Science and Technology, a school that guarantees employment at Moncha Corp., she’s devastated. A happenstance salvaging of a mangled cat baku might just change the game. Suddenly, Lacey’s got an in with Profectus and is one step closer to her dream. Jinx, however, is not quite like the other bakus—he’s a wild cat that does things without commands. Together with Jinx, Lacey will have to navigate competitive classmates and unsettling corporate secrets. McCulloch effectively strikes a balance between worldbuilding and action. High-stakes baku battles demonstrate the emotional bond between (robotic) pet and owner. Readers will also connect to the relationships the Asian girl forges with her diverse classmates, including a rivalry with Carter (a white boy who’s the son of Moncha’s other co-founder, Eric Smith), a burgeoning crush on student Tobias, who’s black, and evolving friendships new and old. While some mysteries are solved, a cliffhanger ending raises even more for the next installment.

A solid series starter for tinkerers and adventurers alike. (Science fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8374-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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