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BENJAMIN IMPOSSIBLE

THE HELIUM HEIST

From the Benjamin Impossible series , Vol. 1

A zany and often hilarious kids’ adventure with a sharp protagonist.

Awards & Accolades

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In this children’s adventure series starter, a young boy is tasked with a mission to rescue his little brother and save the world from an evil doctor.

Benjamin Impossible has an impressive list of accomplishments. He’s not only a genius; he’s also won the Franklin County hot dog eating contest three years running, and he was once named Preteen magazine’s Boy of the Year. Most people are more familiar with his family members, however. His brother, Charlie, is a 2-year-old prodigy who speaks perfect English and knows 17 programming languages; his mother is Doctor Impossible, who runs the family business, Impossible Incorporated, “the largest invention company in the world”; and his father is Professor Impossible, the inventor of hyper-helium, a gas that has “five hundred times the lifting force of regular helium” and powers the family’s home—a flying pirate ship. When someone steals an expensive hyper-helium shipment from NASA, the Impossibles head to Florida to investigate. They soon find the sinister Doctor Glockenspiel, who kidnaps Charlie and demands the hyper-helium formula in exchange for his return. Now it’s up to Benjamin, along with his robotic dog NOAH (“Non-Offensive Autonomous Hound”) and U.S. Air Force liaison Capt. Lemonthyme, to rescue his sibling and stop Doctor Glockenspiel before he can enact his plan to take over the planet. Root masterfully employs snappy, humorous writing to spin a plot that never drags; it also never feels over-the-top, despite the wacky, outrageous things that occur. The book has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments; at one point, for instance, Benjamin, while running from a robot shark, tells his family to take off in the ship, but they mistakenly think he’s calling for a dance-off, so they activate “disco mode.” Benjamin has a fun collection of gadgets, from Ultra-Pacifiers that can put people to sleep to gas blasters and exploding candy. He’s smart enough to make even NASA employees seem unimpressive, and charming enough to keep readers engaged from start to finish.

A zany and often hilarious kids’ adventure with a sharp protagonist.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2024

ISBN: 9780989750134

Page Count: 322

Publisher: REN Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

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CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

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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THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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