Begs to be read in the dark of night.


The 900-year-old city of Edinburgh takes center stage in this middle-grade ghost story.

Since a near-death experience a year ago, Cassidy Blake can see ghosts. She can enter the Veil, the curtain between the worlds of the living and the dead. Her best friend, Jacob, is one of the “corporeally challenged.” Cass’ parents, paranormal-nonfiction authors known as the Inspecters (pun intended), have big news: The family is off to Scotland to film the first episode of their self-titled docuseries about haunted places. In Edinburgh, Cass meets Lara Chowdhury, a British-Indian girl who shares Cass’ ability. Lara informs Cass they are ghost hunters whose purpose is to help ghosts pass beyond the Veil (what Lara calls the “in-between”) to the “place beyond.” When a sinister specter known as the Raven in Red sets her malevolent sights on Cass, the American must use her new knowledge to save her own life. Cass narrates in the present tense, and Jacob, who can hear her thoughts, interrupts when he doesn’t agree with her. This clever narrative style choice and the real-world setting, which includes the cafe where Harry Potter was “born” and the most haunted cemetery in Europe, Greyfriars, firmly anchor the story in reality. The dead lack diversity, and biracial Lara seems to be the only living person of color (her father is British-Indian, and her mother is Scottish).

Begs to be read in the dark of night. (Paranormal adventure. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-11100-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


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.


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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