Pizazz may feel like she’s unique in her problems, but on paper she’s a dime a dozen.


From the Pizazz series , Vol. 1

Being a superpowered 9 ½-year-old isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

When you think superhero, you picture a costumed adventurer punching evildoers and saving the day. You picture a heroic grin and an endearing quip as our hero humbly suggests it’s just their duty, just before swooping off to avert some other far-off crisis. It sounds like it’d be great to be a superhero, but Pizazz knows better. This kid has had it up to here with dashing away from her friends and school whenever there’s a sign of trouble. She’s tired of saving the world while wearing an embarrassing, glittery cape. Hardest of all might be the constantly sunny attitude expected of her: Pizazz feels trapped by an image she never wanted in the first place. As Pizazz outlines her laundry list of complaints, readers may find their empathy curdling quickly. There are only so many smarmy wisecracks one can take without a balance of earnest chuckles or splashy art, and the book has neither. Flat characters and square authority figures dance to the narrative’s well-worn song. At its core, there’s little to set this novel apart from the many other “misunderstood middle grader with attitude” books that flood school book fairs. Pizazz and most of her family have paper-white skin; some secondary characters appear to be people of color. Book 2, Pizazz vs. the New Kid, publishes simultaneously.

Pizazz may feel like she’s unique in her problems, but on paper she’s a dime a dozen. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9243-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Dizzyingly silly.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

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 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.


After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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