Readers are guaranteed very smooth sailing.

THE DOLL PEOPLE SET SAIL

From the Doll People series , Vol. 4

The Doll and Funcraft families are back—and the ocean’s got ’em.

Readers who loved the adventures of the doll “people” brought vividly and charmingly to life in the other books in the series will be delighted by this latest entry. Page-turning exploits await: Packed into a carton for what’s intended to be a temporary removal to their owners’ attic, the dolls find themselves accidentally placed aboard a cargo ship bound for England. Can the dolls escape and return home? Can they avoid human notice? Can they rescue some of their own from frightful danger? You bet—in a gently humorous, engaging and genuinely exciting story that’s strong on plot and, as always, on well-developed personalities. As before, the wonder of the dolls is that they embody admirable, sympathetic human traits, which are beautifully realized: strong family loyalties; unwavering, cooperative friendships; perseverance powered by healthy doses of self-esteem; and impressive problem-solving skills. Readers cheerfully forget these characters aren’t human and root for them all the way. Fans will welcome aboard Helquist, whose artwork is inspired by and takes off from the excellent illustrations established in the earlier books by Brian Selznick; indeed, Annabelle is even more winsome and expressive here. Fans will also appreciate meeting some charming new dolls, fellow boxed-up passengers who aid our heroes and, in turn, are affectingly helped by them.

Readers are guaranteed very smooth sailing. (not all final art seen) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3683-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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