What’s next? Probably an equally maladroit series of trips to the Revolutionary War itself.



From the Rush Revere series , Vol. 2

Rush Revere and his horse, Liberty, return to Manchester Middle School for more “rush, rush, rushing to history.”

It hasn’t been long since Rush and Liberty took students Tommy and Freedom to Plymouth Plantation (Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, 2013), but they are stoked for more time travel when the unorthodox substitute teacher returns. This time, he includes new student Cam, an African-American military child, and blonde queen-bee Elizabeth in his hops, taking various configurations of the foursome to a handful of places and times between 1765 and 1774. Oddly, though Rush’s namesake’s famous ride is referenced, they do not travel to witness it. Other missed opportunities include a visit to chat with Patrick Henry, though not to hear his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech, and a trip to Philadelphia to stand around outside Carpenters’ Hall while inside, the First Continental Congress debates severing trade ties with Great Britain. As before, blithe disregard for the basic conventions of time-travel fantasy and leaden, amateurish prose characterize the effort. A surfeit of exclamation points (seven in one paragraph at one point) fails to compensate for the text’s inveterate tendency to tell, not show. Characterizations are particularly weak; Elizabeth is an extreme cartoon of a brat, and Cam displays bizarre equanimity at being assumed a slave. Rush himself and Liberty are as affable as ever, though. Readers interested in the received narrative of the lead-up to the American Revolution would do much better to look for the old Landmark books in their local libraries.

What’s next? Probably an equally maladroit series of trips to the Revolutionary War itself. (author's note, quiz) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5588-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2014

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A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy.


Inventively tweaking a popular premise, Jensen pits two Incredibles-style families with superpowers against each other—until a new challenge rises to unite them.

The Johnsons invariably spit at the mere mention of their hated rivals, the Baileys. Likewise, all Baileys habitually shake their fists when referring to the Johnsons. Having long looked forward to getting a superpower so that he too can battle his clan’s nemeses, Rafter Bailey is devastated when, instead of being able to fly or something else cool, he acquires the “power” to strike a match on soft polyester. But when hated classmate Juanita Johnson turns up newly endowed with a similarly bogus power and, against all family tradition, they compare notes, it becomes clear that something fishy is going on. Both families regard themselves as the heroes and their rivals as the villains. Someone has been inciting them to fight each other. Worse yet, that someone has apparently developed a device that turns real superpowers into silly ones. Teaching themselves on the fly how to get past their prejudice and work together, Rafter, his little brother, Benny, and Juanita follow a well-laid-out chain of clues and deductions to the climactic discovery of a third, genuinely nefarious family, the Joneses, and a fiendishly clever scheme to dispose of all the Baileys and Johnsons at once. Can they carry the day?

A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy. (Adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-220961-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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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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