A funny if not always nice popcorn read.



From the Sven Carter series , Vol. 2

Following Sven Carter & the Trashmouth Effect (2017), the heroes go on a wild road trip to save the world.

Sven may have taken out Dr. Shallix, but some of the doomsday-plotting villain’s words have stuck with him—mainly the revelation that Sven isn’t just a singular Synthetic—a Tick—that’s been built as a Soviet superweapon against humanity, but that he’s actually Seven Omicron—meaning One through Six are still out there. It’s up to Sven’s group to prevent the Synthetics from using the Omicrons for their designated nefarious plans, but first the other six must be found. Synthetics are hot on the heroes’ trail, and Sven’s subjected to the inhumanly terrible pop music his human traveling companions love. Along the way, there’s action of course, in fights against delightfully disgusting Ticks—tentacles and centipedes—as well as tension within the group. Most disturbing for Sven is a voice he starts hearing, telling him the humans will never accept him and so he should fulfill his purpose and eliminate them. New characters have large, charming personalities, including computer-savvy Asian twins who diversify the otherwise mostly white cast. On top of the stereotypical association of Asian heritage with STEM expertise, one is blind but can “see” artificially—an unfortunate trope. Of the returning characters, Will fades into the background; his OCD’s occasionally mentioned as analogous to the Ticks’ programming and played for laughs. After the ending’s dust settles, there’s still room for another installment.

A funny if not always nice popcorn read. (Science fiction/adventure. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9017-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...


At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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