An eminently satisfying closer to a thoughtful, complex, and very funny adventure series.

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THE CHAOS CURSE

From the Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series , Vol. 3

In the third installment of DasGupta’s bestselling series, 12-year-old demon slayer Kiranmala and her friends must stop her father, the Serpent King, from collapsing the parallel dimensions of the multiverse into one in a nefarious plot to destroy its diversity.

Having saved Prince Neelkamal from her father at the end of Game of Stars (2019), Kiran must now save Prince Lalkamal, Neel’s brother, trapped in a New Jersey tree. But as Kiran traverses the multiverse, things get strange(r): When her auto-rickshaw collides with a pumpkin, the old woman who tumbles out turns from the woman from a well-loved folktale into the story’s ferocious tiger. The “story-smushing thing” keeps happening, and when a wormhole lands Kiran back in New Jersey, she returns to parents who are “colonized beyond repair”—they keep referring to her as “Karen” and rejecting her bicultural Bengali American identity. In line with its predecessors, this adventure is characteristically action-packed and funny: DasGupta riddles the text with in-jokes and puns, and her verbal gymnastics are wink-winks to readers who are fluent in Bengali or Hindi and/or familiar with South Asian culture. But this book is also the most ambitious of the trilogy. Not only does it draw inspiration from Bengali folklore, South Asian and American pop culture, and metaphysics, it also reinforces seamlessly and with righteousness the series’ central themes: that stories are powerful, and that many stories are necessary to imagine a just future.

An eminently satisfying closer to a thoughtful, complex, and very funny adventure series. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35589-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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