Kids who already dig the series will probably like this one.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE COSMIC BEYOND

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 4

Jack Sullivan and his friends battle interdimensional evil in a Cthulhu-inspired Christmas special.

Readers coming to the series midstream can breathe easy. Jack gives them a “real-deal recap” right away, explaining all about the Monster Apocalypse, the zombie plague, and the possibility of other human survivors holed up in the Statue of Liberty. This new installment includes sledding disasters, the gang’s attempt to introduce monsters to the wonders of Christmas, and a human girl who always sympathized with villains attempting to unleash unspeakable horrors on Earth. There are several appeal factors for readers who need some pizzazz with their plot; monsterrific illustrations that take the place of description or exposition, liberal use of italics and ALL CAPS, up-to-the-second pop-culture references, and some tame gross-out humor. The cast is racially diverse according to the illustrations; Jack and Dirk look white, Quint appears black, and June, who “knows Spanish, because her parents spoke it at home,” is implied Latina. However, the Christmas-centered plot and the casual usage of “lame” as an insult may prevent some readers from connecting with the story. A few moral lessons about the importance of friendship are scattered throughout, but depth and nuanced characterization come across as halfhearted gestures that are of secondary importance compared to monsters, weapons, and putatively awesome adventures.

Kids who already dig the series will probably like this one. (Horror. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-4252-9208-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey.

A WOLF CALLED WANDER

Separated from his pack, Swift, a young wolf, embarks on a perilous search for a new home.

Swift’s mother impresses on him early that his “pack belongs to the mountains and the mountains belong to the pack.” His father teaches him to hunt elk, avoid skunks and porcupines, revere the life that gives them life, and “carry on” when their pack is devastated in an attack by enemy wolves. Alone and grieving, Swift reluctantly leaves his mountain home. Crossing into unfamiliar territory, he’s injured and nearly dies, but the need to run, hunt, and live drives him on. Following a routine of “walk-trot-eat-rest,” Swift traverses prairies, canyons, and deserts, encountering men with rifles, hunger, thirst, highways, wild horses, a cougar, and a forest fire. Never imagining the “world could be so big or that I could be so alone in it,” Swift renames himself Wander as he reaches new mountains and finds a new home. Rife with details of the myriad scents, sounds, tastes, touches, and sights in Swift/Wander’s primal existence, the immediacy of his intimate, first-person, present-tense narration proves deeply moving, especially his longing for companionship. Realistic black-and-white illustrations trace key events in this unique survival story, and extensive backmatter fills in further factual information about wolves and their habitat.

A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey. (additional resources, map) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-289593-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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