Relative inaction and deus ex machina solutions mark this installment as a typical middle volume; here’s hoping the...



From the Atlantis series , Vol. 2

The evil spirit Narkazan, supposedly vanquished in Atlantis Rising (2013), is back.

Reunited with his parents but bitter at their earlier abandonment of him, immortal hero Promi doesn’t heed his father’s warning that his trips to Atlantis to visit the beautiful Atlanta are damaging the veil that keeps the mortal world safe. Narkazan sends dreams to a mortal, Reocoles, who begins an industrial revolution in Atlantis after Promi saves his ship from disaster. These rapid-fire industrial advancements, engineered by Reocoles and his fellow Greek explorers, threaten environmental ruin in short order. Barron’s eco-friendly message is laudable but so didactic the book suffers. Readers may wonder why magical sea creature Kermi, sent to warn Promi not to save the ship, decides not to deliver his urgent message, for instance. As in the series opener, the characters’ dialogue is often stilted, and those who speak in dialect come across as terribly clichéd. Narkazan’s lack of empathy—and sometimes common sense—makes him unbelievable, and the lesser, mustache-twirling (in one case, literally) bad guys’ main purpose seems to be to fulfill archetypes. The ethnic targeting of the Greeks as eco-villains is just one more problematic element.

Relative inaction and deus ex machina solutions mark this installment as a typical middle volume; here’s hoping the conclusion makes up for at least some of the failings of the first two books. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16804-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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


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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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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