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From the Space Rocks series , Vol. 2

Jalasu Jhuk be praised! Another sequel is on the way, given the wide-open (but still satisfying) ending.

Throw your thol’graz in the air: Chorkle and its human friends return to continue their adventures (Space Rocks, 2014).

The ancient weapon Q-sik saved Gelo, Chorkle’s asteroid home, from the Vorem Dominion’s attack; unfortunately it also flung Gelo, its Xotonian inhabitants and their four human guests into an unknown corner of the universe. When Kalac, Chorkle’s originator (“parent,” in human terms) and the leader of the Xotonians, vanishes on nearby Kyral, Chorkle, Hollins, Nicki, Becky and Little Gus defy the opportunistic Sheln, who’s trying to steal Kalac’s position, to mount a rescue mission. The Aeaki, Kyral’s hostile, birdlike inhabitants, don’t know how to use their forbears’ technology any better than the Xotonians do theirs, so they aren’t any help in the search for Kalac…but a sullen Vorem teenager might be. O’Donnell’s continuation of Chorkle’s story is as much fun as its predecessor. Humorous linguistic and cultural clashes, well-built Everykid characters with realistically rocky relationships, and a logically constructed universe—not to mention action and a couple of surprises—fill out this solid sequel. Reading the first is highly recommended.

Jalasu Jhuk be praised! Another sequel is on the way, given the wide-open (but still satisfying) ending. (Science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59514-714-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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