Next book



From the Rush Revere series

Exceptionally bad.

Supercool substitute teacher Rush Revere and his time-traveling horse, Liberty, take two students to 1620 to meet such exceptional Americans as William Bradford and Squanto.

In a series of jumps, the amiable Rush takes football player and closet nerd Tommy and pretty, soft-spoken, dark-skinned Freedom (possibly Native American) to such significant moments as the Mayflower’s embarkation from England, its landing at Plymouth and the first Thanksgiving. In their encounters, they learn about the Pilgrims’ quest for religious freedom, the difficult conditions they faced both onboard and in the New World, and how the fledgling colony’s relations with the local Native Americans were established. The presentation of history adheres to the standard narrative presented in classrooms for decades throughout the 20th century. Readers looking for Limbaugh’s politics won’t have to search hard. Tommy and Rush school Bradford in the values of competition and individualism, while Bradford and Squanto give thanks to God for seeing them through adversity. The storytelling that carries history, adventure and politics is breathtakingly inept. The rules governing both time travel and Liberty’s remarkable powers are both inconsistent and so arbitrarily convenient they feel as though they were made up as the author went along. Rush and the children’s interactions with historical figures are thoroughly wooden and elide the basic rules of the genre; Bradford never questions Rush’s late-18th-century getup, for instance, and is stupendously incurious about their monthslong absences. The prose never rises above amateurish and often reads as though written by the middle school students Rush teaches: “Tommy plopped down on a random desk….” Although the faux parchment pages catch the eye, illustration, design and even proofreading (Samoset is consistently misspelled “Somoset” in the text though not in captions or the author’s note) are as rudimentary and slipshod as the prose. The ever hungry Liberty provides needed, if lame, comic relief. A closing quiz leads readers to the website for answers.

Exceptionally bad. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5586-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Next book


From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

Next book


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

Close Quickview