Fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society (2007) will welcome Stewart’s latest puzzling adventure, whose seemingly ordinary...

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THE SECRET KEEPERS

A solitary boy with a penchant for finding “spots where no one would ever think to look” finds a mysterious watch and unravels a series of startling secrets.

Growing up in shabby New Umbra, white, 11-year-old Reuben lives with his widowed mother. Exploring a precarious ledge, Rueben finds a case containing a spherical watch that enables him to become temporarily invisible. Excited and empowered, Reuben experiments with his secret watch but is worried when he hears that The Smoke, an ambiguous character controlling New Umbra, is desperate to find the watch and has his bullies searching for it. An inscription on the watch case leads Reuben to a lighthouse where a young white girl named Penny reveals a long-kept family secret. Reuben discovers there are really two watches and whoever holds both becomes immortal. Convinced The Smoke already possesses the other watch, methodical Reuben must rely on moxie and wits to confront him on his own turf. Despite the novel’s daunting length and Reuben’s tendency to overthink everything, there are enough hidden tunnels, concealed traps, enigmatic secrets, hair-raising surprises, quirky characters, and ethical dilemmas to keep the plot buzzing. Sudyka supplies atmospheric black-and-white spot illustrations done in ink and wash.

Fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society (2007) will welcome Stewart’s latest puzzling adventure, whose seemingly ordinary hero proves quite extraordinary . (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38955-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Megan Tingley/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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