From blastoff to landing, another nifty ride.


From the Astrotwins series , Vol. 2

Following their successful rocket launch in Astrotwins—Project Blastoff (2015), Scott and Mark Kelly are back for another unlikely outer-space adventure.

It’s spring of 1976, and the 12-year-old twins are feeling restless after the excitement of the previous summer, so when a malfunction on the Soviet Salyut space station threatens the life of a cosmonaut, they decide to get their Crazy 8 team back together for a rescue. As in the previous book, author and former astronaut Kelly and co-author Freeman mix likable pre-adolescent high jinks, real science (and here, Cold War history), and a whole lot of suspended disbelief into a page-turning collaborative adventure. It’s a rockier start than in the earlier book, as the kids need to conscript adults into their scheme; somehow, it’s a lot easier to believe that a bunch of preteens could assemble a rocket on their own than to imagine that Sen. John Glenn would help that bunch of preteens do an end run around NASA to launch the Titan II rocket now conveniently stored near the Kelly twins’ grandpa’s house in New Jersey or that pal Barry Leibovitz could make a solo trip to the USSR’s Star City to translate. But once past these hurdles, readers will find themselves as invested in the kids’ success as the team itself is. As before, infodumps on rocketry and politics fold themselves remarkably seamlessly into the narrative.

From blastoff to landing, another nifty ride. (author’s note, glossary, sources) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2458-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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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

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


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

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