Wholesome, delightful, and jam-packed with adventure.


From the Wilderlore series , Vol. 1

An orphaned boy discovers belonging and friendship.

Eleven-year-old Barclay Thorne is an apprentice to the mushroom farmer in the town of Dullshire. He’s worked diligently to prove himself since his parents perished in an attack by an otherworldly Beast seven years prior. Dullshire prides itself on rules and prickliness, and its citizens abhor all notions of Lore Keepers, those who bond with Beasts and practice Lore magic. So, when Barclay accidentally stumbles upon—and bonds with—a wolflike Beast in the forbidden Woods, the town banishes him. Left on his own, he teams up with the headstrong Viola, a local Lore Keeper with a dragonlike Beast named Mitzi. Together they seek a way to remove Barclay’s magic Beast Mark so he can one day return to Dullshire, a goal contingent upon his finishing first in the Exhibition, a dangerous competition where budding Lore Keepers prove their worth. As Barclay spends more time in the fantastical town of Sycomore, he bonds both with human allies and his own Beast. The worldbuilding calls forth the atmosphere of classic fantasy worlds while invoking fun and whimsy every step of the way. In addition to pale-skinned Barclay and brown-skinned Viola, casual, naturally integrated diversity is found throughout. Barclay’s journey reignites the wonder and discovery of childhood, culminating in a warm and sincere message about embracing who you are.

Wholesome, delightful, and jam-packed with adventure. (encyclopedia of beasts) (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7756-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.


Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?