The best and most satisfying part about this series is that the monsters and mystery are real and not figments of the kids’...

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MAKING THE TEAM

From the Case File 13 series , Vol. 2

The Three Monsterteers are back and ready for another hair-raising, funny-bone–tickling adventure (Zombie Kid, 2012). The only difference is that this time, like it or not, they’ve got help.

When bodies go missing from the local cemetery, Nick, Angelo and Carter reluctantly agree that the only way they are going to solve the mystery is with the help of their monster-loving girl rivals Angie, Tiffany and Dana. The addition of the girls not only broadens the book’s appeal, but adds a humorous layer of boy-girl interaction that preteen readers will get a kick out of. It’s a battle of the sexes as the mystery leads them to an unusual private school with larger-than-life (literally) students and a mad-scientist headmaster with a demonic agenda. Though the headmaster’s ultimate endgame is somewhat confusing, readers are sure to get more than a few thrills as the kids band together to uncover what’s really going on at Sumina Prep. The stakes are raised even higher when their classmate Cody Gills goes missing, and the kids have every reason to believe that he will meet an untimely end unless they break into Sumina Prep and save him.

The best and most satisfying part about this series is that the monsters and mystery are real and not figments of the kids’ imaginations. Another thoroughly satisfying thrill ride . (Funny horror. 9-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-213331-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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