A multi-world adventure starring a band of heroes that readers will want to join.

THE TWINNING PROJECT

A high stakes twin-switch adventure.

Unconventional, antisocial Thomas "Tom" Canty is highly intelligent and a gifted musician. He also has a bad habit of getting expelled from schools for standing up against bullies. Being a rebel and talking to his "imaginary" friend are two of the coping mechanisms he developed after his father went missing in a plane crash. His friend, Eddie, lives on a slightly younger alternate Earth, about 50 years in the past. Eddie is Tom's identical twin and polar opposite—athletic and popular. Third-person perspectives of other characters, such as the not-so-imaginary Eddie, fill gaps in Tom's first-person narration. The twins are key figures for a group of alien scientists wanting to take down the resistance that protects both Earths from imminent destruction, and the twins must switch places for some reason never fully explained. The overarching threat is ill-defined, but the immediate struggles of the young protagonists keep the story moving and enjoyable. The alien villains—who can appear on both Earths at the same time to menace all characters, although how is never addressed—are underdeveloped, like the threat they pose. Instead, the writing tightly focuses on Tom, Eddie and their friends on each Earth, and their interactions are more than strong enough to carry the weight of the plot.

A multi-world adventure starring a band of heroes that readers will want to join. (Science fiction. 9-14) 

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-64571-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

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

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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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