A (mostly) tasty second helping.

ZOMBIES ARE PEOPLE, TOO

From the Project Z series , Vol. 2

A zombie escapee is recaptured by the top-secret government agency that created him.

The smartest kid in the fifth grade, Arnold Z. Ombee (a zombie, obvi), uses his superintelligence to tutor a struggling classmate. Now Arnold is accepted—maybe even popular. But it’s not just the cool kids who have their eye on him. Arnold catches an oddly familiar man spying on him and his human family, the Kinders. Soon after the encounter, the police inform Arnold’s school that an “undocumented fugitive” is in attendance. The man—a Dr. Grassmere—convinces Arnold’s family to let him take Arnold back to the Territory for a week of testing. But the “tests” serve a more sinister purpose: brainwashing Arnold and his “fellow afterlifes” and turning them into superstrong zombie warriors! Will Arnold snap out of it and remember his human life? Or is it already too late? This sequel one-ups A Zombie Ate My Homework’s (2019) infectiously hilarious tone with more over-the-top sequences, amplified by Bardin’s cartoon spot illustrations. Arnold alternates some first-person narration duties with classmate Evan, which adds an extra dose of character development to corpse-white Arnold’s diverse cast of friends, such as revealing that Evan is a cancer survivor. The messages about acceptance and belonging are timely—although using the term “undocumented” to refer to a zombie does leave a bit of a bad taste.

A (mostly) tasty second helping. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-30596-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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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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