From the Star Darlings series , Vol. 1

Complicated, retrograde, and very sparkly.

A new student at the academy for Wish-Granters joins a specially selected group for secret missions.

After opening pages consisting of short profiles of the 12 students that the series will follow, the story begins with Sage’s arrival at Starling Academy, the prestigious school where Starlings learn to travel to the Wishworld (implied Earth) to harness positive energy by granting Wishlings’ wishes. Further exposition (clumsily framed with “As every Starling knows,” “As we all know,” and “As everyone knows”) attempts to explain the elaborate wish mechanics. During orientation, Sage is selected with 11 others for a secret meeting. The headmistress tells them about Starland’s energy crisis and that she’s experimenting with sending student visitors to Wishworld in an attempt to drastically increase the levels of positive energy. She has selected this group of students to be the Star Darlings. The already-convoluted world’s mechanics further complicate with the revelation of a prophecy. Soon Sage gets the honor of the first trip to Wishworld to fulfill a wish, which is difficult, as she must correctly identify both the wisher and the specific wish. Humor arises from her incomplete education on Wishworld culture and tension, from the mission’s near-failure. While some readers will appreciate the constant clothing descriptions and glittery references, many will be left cold by the heroine’s insistence that science and math are boring.

Complicated, retrograde, and very sparkly. (Fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-6643-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015


From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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