How Gladys rises to these and other challenges is the fun of the story, and despite the novel’s flaws, middle-grade girls...

THE STARS OF SUMMER

A 12-year-old girl who freelances as a restaurant reviewer (her employer doesn't know her age) finds it increasingly difficult to keep her job secret from her parents while dealing with the problems of being a first-time camper and counselor-in-training.

In her first outing (All Four Stars, 2014), Gladys Gatsby, a dedicated cook and all-around foodie, landed her reviewing gig and made some friends. In this overlong, overpopulated sequel, the intrepid heroine has to keep lots of balls in the air. But once again, despite some awkward plot machinations and various substantial credibility problems, by the end, readers should be cheering for Gladys’ success. In this story, a somewhat more confident Gladys is put in a difficult fish-out-of-water situation: her friend Charissa, whose parents own Camp Bentley, gives the unathletic girl an unwanted present of an all-expenses-paid summer at camp. In addition to having to learn how to swim, Gladys must deal with Charissa and her buddies, an obnoxious child novelist, and the demanding camp cook, all while figuring out how to get into the city for her professional reviewing assignment—finding the best hot dog in New York City. It’s a testament to Gladys’ characterization that her appeal rises above the credulity-straining plot.

How Gladys rises to these and other challenges is the fun of the story, and despite the novel’s flaws, middle-grade girls should enjoy the ride. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-17069-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

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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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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