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From the Rush Revere series , Vol. 2

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

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 2, 2014

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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

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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

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