ENCOUNTER AT EASTON

            Robert Linnly and Elizabeth Mawes, the boy and girl runaways aided by orphan Peter York in Night Journeys (1979), continue their flight in this crisp chronicle, which is presented as testimony by a number of those involved in the story.  (Avi whets curiosity by plunging straight into the testimony, without indicating what exactly is being investigated in the 1768 hearing.)  Among those whose alternating statements take up and carry on the story are John Tolivar of Trenton, to whom the runaways are bonded as indentured servants; Nathaniel Hill, a sleazy adventurer, paid to retrieve Elizabeth (he’s been told that the boy has been captured, but doesn’t know that Robert has escaped); Robert himself, describing the flight and his growing concern for Elizabeth (Bet) when she becomes ill from an infected arm wound; and George Clagget, the constable at Easton, whom Hill enlists to fetch the girl when he learns that she is being cared for in the nearby cave of old Mad Moll.  Moll herself was once a girl of good family, but was rejected by parents and fiancé when she was raped by a soldier.  For a time, as Bet lies ill in the cave, Robert works as a servant boy to Hill.  Gradually, each comes to suspect the other’s identity.  There is a final, fast-action confrontation in Mad Moll’s cave, and before it is over Elizabeth is dead.  The story’s pace is brisk and Avi’s testimonial format gives a clean, unsentimental tone to the sentimental-melodrama content.  It also tends to perpetuate the problem with Night Journeys – namely, the absence of any personal observation, feeling, or quality that would not show up in the well-edited court records.      10-12

Pub Date: April 1, 1980

ISBN: 0380732416

Page Count: 148

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1980

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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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Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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