By the end, both characters and readers have had a workout; the latter will hope for more

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BROXO

The ruler of a kingdom of one and a runaway princess join forces in this agreeable sword-and-sorcery graphic novel.

Zora, in tattered skirt, furry boots and winged headband, is on an unauthorized mission of peace to the far-off Peryton clan, but when she gets to their mountain she finds only Broxo, in mail shirt, fur cape and earrings. Broxo is alone—and has been for years—but for Migo, a horned, catlike behemoth. The two young teens don't exactly hit it off, but Broxo takes pity on the lost princess, and besides, he seems happy for the company. The blasted landscape is also home to Ulith, an inscrutable, sometimes helpful witch; Gloth, a maned, wolflike monster; and the creepers, terrifying zombielike things that have a closer relationship to Broxo than he realizes. Giallongo's glossy panels are dominated by swampy grays, browns and greens, shifting in palette and clarity subtly to signify scene changes and flashbacks. Zora and Broxo have considerable chemistry, often-acerbic banter giving way to more intimate, heartfelt exchanges. Their adventures are well-paced, balancing humor with terror and continually ratcheting up the stakes toward a bloody, mythic climax. The story borrows freely from familiar fantasy and adventure tropes, but it is far from derivative, delivering both action and emotional depth with assurance.

By the end, both characters and readers have had a workout; the latter will hope for more . (Graphic fantasy. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-551-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.

THE TOWER OF NERO

From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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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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