Intriguing subject matter and rock-solid pacing combine for a nifty adventure—one that may well spark a new generation of...

ASTROTWINS—PROJECT BLASTOFF

With co-author Freeman, Kelly takes readers back to 1975, when long-distance telephone calls cost money, calculators were expensive luxuries, and Americans fizzed with excitement about the U.S. space program.

Former astronaut Kelly takes a cool biographical fact—he and his identical twin brother, Scott, are the only siblings ever to fly in space—and spins it into an absorbing adventure. To get visiting 11-year-old twins Scott and Mark out of his hair, Grandpa suggests they build a spaceship. Taking him at his word, they enlist the help of brainy Jenny O’Malley and their neighbor Barry Leibovitz, a math nerd, and so begins a summer of clandestine research and construction. Eventually the team expands to include Howard Chin, who has a computer, and Lisa Perez, whose dad owns an auto body shop. The team studies physics at the library and scrounges for materials, promising all the adults they won’t blow anything up. The kids’ enthusiasm is infectious, and Kelly’s expertise comes through in telling, kid-friendly details, as when Barry’s older brother, a former pilot and Vietnam POW, takes them on a trip to an amusement park to determine which kids have the right stuff. If the characters often speak in infodumps, it’s because they are learning along with readers, and the information imparted is staged just right.

Intriguing subject matter and rock-solid pacing combine for a nifty adventure—one that may well spark a new generation of astronauts. (further reading) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1545-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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.

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

Did you like this book?

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more