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From the Danger Gang series , Vol. 1

Routine even with the swordplay and flying excrement.

When his adventure-loving parents disappear on an expedition to Borneo, an 11-year-old shut-in recruits a sidekick (actually “partner”) and sets out to the rescue.

A legend in his own mind, Ronald ostentatiously refers to himself as “Ronald Zupan” throughout. In his quest to find his missing parents (Argentine dad Francisco and white American mom Helen), the mixed-race lad sweeps up Carter, his defanged (but still prone to biting) pet cobra, a white British nanny/butler he insists on calling “Jeeves” (not his name), and fencing rival Julianne Sato, a “feisty” lass of Japanese descent, on the way to a crash-landing in the jungle. Encounters with poop-throwing orangutans and unsavory local residents ensue, along with diverse narrow squeaks aboveground and below, culminating in a brisk duel with a pirate captain on a slippery mountain of bat guano that brings the mission to a successful close. Most of these exploits, along with the corrective comments offered by “Jeeves” at each chapter’s end and the superfluous appearance of a ship and other props from a certain series of pirate movies produced by “swarthy” superstar Josh Brigand come off as labored efforts to liven up the flaccid plot by cramming in as many yuks as possible. The boastful narrator, the artifact looters who are his parents, and the rest of the stereotyped cast fall as flat as the jokes. Map and finished spot illustrations not seen.

Routine even with the swordplay and flying excrement. (Adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61963-692-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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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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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