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THE RAVEN THRONE

A thrilling quest, but it would’ve been unnecessary if the protagonists had had even one calm conversation.

Cordelia, Giles, and Rosalind, magical triplets raised in exile and now restored to the monarchy, discover the royal court is more dangerous than any wild creature in this sequel toThe Raven Heir (2021).

A great battle has restored Cordelia to the Raven Throne, so the 12-year-old triplets feel like everything ought to be easy now. Instead, it’s all worse than ever. Cordelia, now the Raven Queen, is surrounded by terrible advisers and kept away from her siblings. Rosalind, the young warrior, is tormented by cruel ladies-in-waiting and humiliated for her athleticism. Giles dreamed of becoming a bard, but now he’s convinced that indulging in either music or magic will tarnish Cordelia and make her seem unfit for the crown. One night, Cordelia falls into an enchanted slumber, and it’s up to Rosalind and Giles to go on a quest to save both their sister and the magical land itself—but they venture forth without their greatest strengths. An escalating series of arguments and misunderstandings means that neither the triplets nor their family members ever compare notes, so it is not until the climax that they realize how badly they’ve been manipulated by vicious nobles. Instead, they spent much of the adventure angry, shouting, and mutually distrustful. Despite the eventual rewarding character growth for Rosalind and Giles, the unnecessarily overlong communication failure is exhausting. Most characters read White.

A thrilling quest, but it would’ve been unnecessary if the protagonists had had even one calm conversation. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2023

ISBN: 9781547610327

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023

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CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

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 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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