RYAN QUINN AND THE LION'S CLAW

From the Ryan Quinn series , Vol. 2

Hits the spot for adventure junkies

In his second novel, McGee follows up on Ryan Quinn and the Rebel’s Escape (2016) with another high-action adventure that reads much like the screenplays of his television movies.

Newly minted New Yorker Ryan, having barely escaped his first life-threatening adventure, is still coming to grips with having learned his parents are key agents in the Emergency Rescue Committee. The white eighth-grader now understands why they’ve moved around so much and how his parents’ “games” have in reality been training him for undercover work all his life. It’s still a lot to take in. Life throws him a twist when his new best friend, Filipino-American computer nerd Danny, excited to do ERC work, stows away on a plane—and Ryan has no choice but to join him. With his parents out of town, Ryan and Danny find themselves caught up in an ERC mission of their own, trying to rescue two rebellious young rap stars who have been on the run from a repressive (fictional) government in Africa, where there is a price on their heads. And it appears that someone’s about to collect…unless Ryan and Danny can come to the rescue. The well-traveled Ryan’s previous experiences in Africa give McGee an opportunity to directly address the West’s dominant narrative, but whether he sufficiently interrogates it is open to question. Still, solid characters, snappy dialogue, and tons of action keep pages flipping.

Hits the spot for adventure junkies . (Thriller. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-242169-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

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

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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