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

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

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

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. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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