This fast-paced combination of middle school realism and fairy-tale fantasy will appeal particularly to imaginative readers...

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OF GIANTS AND ICE

From the Ever Afters series , Vol. 1

On an expedition to steal a giant’s coins, hen and harp, Rory Landon discovers that she is destined for a special role in fairy-tale history.

Only child of divorced celebrities, Rory is not your ordinary sixth-grader. She’s had plenty of experience with after-school programs in the many different places she’s lived. Nor is Ever After School your ordinary day care center. The children and grandchildren of fairy-tale characters, EASers are Characters-in-training, likely to be part of each other’s tales and certain to be sent on one or more quests of their own. Here, for the first time in years, Rory makes friends who don’t care about her famous parents. Here, she fights a dragon, with a real sword. And when her friend Lena’s first tale turns out to require beanstalk-climbing, Rory’s thrilled to be one of her Companions, even though she’s afraid of heights and even though her least favorite person, Chase Turnleaf, is coming along. Their accidental visit to the Snow Queen in her Glass Mountain prison changes their relationship and sets the stage for a promised sequel. Rory recalls her adventures in a first-person chronological narration that includes plenty of dialogue.

This fast-paced combination of middle school realism and fairy-tale fantasy will appeal particularly to imaginative readers already familiar with traditional tales. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3146-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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