An elementary karate chop to those temptations that undermine our integrity.

THE MAN IN THE TRENCH COAT

A deliberate and shimmeringly creepy cautionary app that taps a hoary old folktale as it delivers the goods.

James is 9 and loves football as much as he suffers school. One afternoon after practice, as he walks home—to drill with his math tutor, for goodness sake—a sinister character in a trench coat, very Addams Family–esque, dangles a temptation before him: a cheat sheet for the next day’s math test. It doesn’t take long for James to scour his moral referents. He slips the cheat sheet into his dungarees. The setting is as bright as a box of crayons, and by pecking at the screen, readers can activate elements of the screen to lend to the whole affair the pleasurable engagement of a treasure hunt. (A narrator will guide those in pre-reading circumstances.) The Man in the Trench Coat has other goodies up his sleeve (which can usually be tapped to reveal all: a get-out-of-cleaning-your-room card, a sonic football that will make James a star). But with each false step, James looks in the mirror and sees a transformation: His nose is growing, his fingers getting long and pointy, his eyes sinking—he is becoming a carbon copy of the Man in the Trench Coat. James blanches, James considers, James confesses. Good and spooky visuals—a spindly hand emerging from James’ mother’s purse, flapping a 20: “She has more. She won’t mind”—paint a moral texture over the ill-doing.

An elementary karate chop to those temptations that undermine our integrity. (iPad storybook app. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Treuba Interactive Apps

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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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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