A droll addition to the magical school genre, worthy of a seat toward the front of the (Harry) Potter-wagon.

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DR. CRITCHLORE'S SCHOOL FOR MINIONS

From the Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions series , Vol. 1

Will assaults from within and without close a renowned school for minions—leaving the Evil Overlords of the world to draw from rival schools?

Not if Runt Higgins, newest addition to the exclusive Junior Henchman Training program, has anything to say about it. The deck looks stacked, though. A devastating video of panicked Critchlore grads fleeing a group of (apparent!) Girl Explorers has gone viral, and an ongoing string of near disasters prevents recovery. Not only that, a massive explosion in the local graveyard has robbed the school of its chief source of undead new students. Even worse, iron-willed headmaster Dr. Derek Critchlore has suddenly taken to distractedly watching TV soaps and is in danger of being replaced. Kind, thoughtful and so naïve that he’s continually being victimized by pranksters, Runt really isn’t henchman material—but significant clues and loose ends hint that he’ll be achieving a higher station in planned sequels. Moreover, Grau supplies him with loyal friends from half-ogre foster brother Boris to bolt-necked Frank Twenty-five, whose head tends to fly off in a shower of gore when he’s upset. Frequent side jokes and Sutphin’s accomplished caricatures of students, faculty and staff, both human and non-, add comical flourishes.

A droll addition to the magical school genre, worthy of a seat toward the front of the (Harry) Potter-wagon. (pictorial cast list) (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1370-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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Like its bestselling progenitors, a nonstop spinoff afroth with high tech, spectacular magic, and silly business.

THE FOWL TWINS

From the Fowl Twins series , Vol. 1

With their big brother Artemis off to Mars, 11-year-old twins Myles and Beckett are swept up in a brangle with murderous humans and even more dangerous magical creatures.

Unsurprisingly, the fraternal Irish twins ultimately prove equal to the challenge—albeit with help from, Colfer as omniscient narrator admits early on, a “hugely improbable finale.” Following the coincidental arrival on their island estate of two denizens of the subterranean fairy realm in the persons of a tiny but fearsome troll and a “hybrid” pixie-elf, or “pixel,” police trainee, the youngest Fowls immediately find themselves in the sights of both Lord Teddy Bleedham-Drye, a ruthless aristocrat out to bag said troll for its immorality-conferring venom, and Sister Jeronima Gonzalez-Ramos de Zárate, black-ops “nunterrogation” and knife specialist for ACRONYM, an intergovernmental fairy-monitoring organization. Amid the ensuing whirl of captures, escapes, trickery, treachery, and gunfire (none of which proves fatal…or at least not permanently), the twins leverage their complementary differences to foil and exasperate both foes: Myles being an Artemis mini-me who has dressed in black suits since infancy and loves coming up with and then “Fowlsplaining” his genius-level schemes; and Beckett, ever eager to plunge into reckless action and nearly nonverbal in English but with an extraordinary gift for nonhuman tongues. In the end they emerge triumphant, though threatened with mind wipe if they ever interfere in fairy affairs again. Yeah, right. Human characters seem to be default white; “hybrid” is used to describe nonhuman characters of mixed heritage.

Like its bestselling progenitors, a nonstop spinoff afroth with high tech, spectacular magic, and silly business. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04375-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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