A mild but enjoyable adventure.



From the Sophie Washington series , Vol. 11

Young Sophie Washington has fun and faces challenges at a sixth grade class retreat in this 11th children’s book in Ellis’ series.

The story takes place over two days as Sophie’s private school in Houston brings its students to Camp Glowing Spring for outdoor activities. Sophie is looking forward to spending time with her friends, but she’s also apprehensive about being in the woods after watching Finding Big Foot, which gave her nightmares. She knows that Bigfoot is a hoax, but she still worries—especially after seeing glimpses of a tall, unkempt, hairy man in baggy clothes around camp. She’s also anxious about heights and swimming in the lake, but once she gives the retreat’s activities a try, she has fun. On the other hand, another school’s campers sling racist insults at her and her friend Mariama, both Black, and Christy Chen, who’s Asian American. Sophie discovers that she enjoys playing pranks on racist jerks, and she eventually learns the truth about the hairy man. Ellis shows insight into the doubts and joys of middle school in this latest outing. Although Sophie is part of the popular crowd, she sometimes feels like the odd one out, even within her tight group of friends. The author also effectively relates how Sophie doesn’t appreciate her friends’ interest in boys and how they don’t share her wariness about trying new things. Later, Ellis shows Sophie’s growth when she takes some risks but still has fun. The book encourages appreciation for the outdoors and includes a nature scavenger-hunt list. The tale does seem rather slight, overall, though, and it could have treated the issue of racism with more depth. Uncredited black-outline illustrations economically convey characters and settings.

A mild but enjoyable adventure.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73533-892-7

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Page Turner Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Dizzyingly silly.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?