An absolute must for fans, of course; but even readers who’ve never heard of Heathcliff will be captivated from the first...

THE GLASS TOWN GAME

In a middle-grade fantasy reminiscent of beloved tales from Edward Eager and Pamela Dean, the imaginary realms of the Brontë juvenilia come to wondrous life.

“Once, four children called Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell lived all together in a village called Haworth”—but the never-surnamed protagonists don’t remain in their Yorkshire moors for long. Instead of escorting the two oldest girls to their dreaded School, the siblings are whisked off to Glass Town, where, as Charlotte dryly observes, “we’re only in an insane, upside-down world populated by our toys, our stories, and Napoleon riding on a giant chicken on fire.” Valente seizes this irresistible premise and careens off merrily, in gorgeous, coruscating prose spangled with groanworthy puns, extravagant metaphors, whimsical imagery, literary nods, and historical references. Beyond the sly allusions, sufficient to delight the most devoted Brontë-phile, it is the vivid, achingly real, personalities—brilliant, bossy Charlotte; wild, passionate Emily; gentle, perceptive Anne; and bullying, insecure Branwell—that compel attention. Unfolding against a background of loss and fear, their madcap fairy-tale adventures deepen into a heartbreaking keen of brutality and grief, at the last transposing into an exhilarating, bittersweet paean to identity, agency, and (inevitably) the power of storytelling. (Illustrations not seen.)

An absolute must for fans, of course; but even readers who’ve never heard of Heathcliff will be captivated from the first page to the last. (Fantasy. 10-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7696-6

Page Count: 544

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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