For most readers, the first two mysteries will have sufficed.

READ REVIEW

THE SHADOW LANTERN

From the Blackhope Enigma series , Vol. 3

In this, their third art adventure, Sunni and Blaise are inexorably pulled back to the painting The Mariner’s Return to Arcadia in Blackhope Tower, the setting of their first encounter with the artist/sorcerer Fausto Corvo and villain Soranzo (The Blackhope Enigma, 2011).

Sunni and Blaise are sure that Corvo’s three magical paintings are safely hidden within Arcadia. They steadfastly kept this secret even when they were kidnapped and held in 18th-century London (The Crimson Shard, 2012). But when a “spirit photographer” shows up at Blackhope Tower with an Oculus—a shadow lantern—along with painted slides created by Corvo, both mystery and chase are reopened. With events unfolding on Halloween, and with the addition of a ghost who has her own agenda, Sunni and Blaise are almost stretched to their limits. As before, descriptions are rich, but readers who have not followed the duo’s adventures through the first two books may be hopelessly lost, despite constant references to past adventures. In fact, the fill-ins slow the pace considerably, leaving only die-hard fans curious about the surprising fate of the three paintings or the burgeoning romance between Sunni and Blaise. 

For most readers, the first two mysteries will have sufficed. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6436-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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A richly detailed account of a little-known event in World War II.

LIFEBOAT 12

An escape from war-torn Britain becomes a struggle for survival when a ship is torpedoed off the coast of England.

In June 1940, Great Britain formed the Children’s Overseas Reception Board to transfer Britain’s children away from the encroaching war to safe harbors around the world. Over 200,000 children between the ages of 5 and 15 applied for just 20,000 spots. Thirteen-year-old Kenneth Sparks is chosen to travel on the City of Benares, a luxury ocean liner, to Canada, where he will live with his aunt in Edmonton. The children are distracted by rich food, new toys, and soft beds, but the accompanying convoy of war ships is a constant reminder that while the blitzkrieg might be behind them, German torpedoes are a very present threat. Three days into their voyage, the Benares is hit, sending crew and passengers into the lifeboats and the water. Ken, along with a handful of others, all white except 32 Asian sailors of varied ethnicity (called Lascars at the time), must survive with little water, food, or shelter if they are to make it out alive. Told in verse, the story of Lifeboat 12 is lyrical, terrifying, and even at times funny. Hood makes effective use of line breaks and punctuation to wrap readers up in Ken’s tale. Copious research, including interviews with the real Ken Sparks, went into the making of this fictional recasting of a true story of survival. Backmatter offers further information, including the racism experienced by the Lascars.

A richly detailed account of a little-known event in World War II. (Historical verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6883-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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