A rousingly raucous, if ramshackle, ruckus resolved.


From the Finniverse series , Vol. 3

Having messed up the present by messing with the past in the previous episode, Finn sets out for the submicroscopic world beneath his thumbnail to make amends in this trilogy closer.

The new reality being basically a do-over, Finn has to not only rerecruit former-allies-but-now-strangers Julep Li and Lincoln Sidana as sidekicks, but somehow save the Earth once again from the Plague, a horde of insectile aliens. Fortunately, he has the wormhole-opening unicorn lunchbox from the series opener and doughty demolition robot Highbeam, or his head at least, to bring into play. Unfortunately, the literally slick technology (see title) that could transport him into the subatomic world where his dad is stuck is up in the Plague’s immense orbiting mother ship. The dust-grain world on which Finn eventually arrives after considerable chasing about and firing of blasters, not to mention serious shrinkage, turns out to be not much different than this one, aside from electrically sparky grass and animals. It even likewise needs saving, as the downtrodden town of Quarkhaven has been taken over by evil genius Proton. But thanks to some notably loose-jointed plotting, Buckley manages by the end to get his protagonist’s family reunited and the aliens dispatched to a galaxy far, far away. The motley cast defaults to White so thoroughly that the bugs refer to humans as “pinkskins”; names and physical descriptions cue some diversity among supporting characters.

A rousingly raucous, if ramshackle, ruckus resolved. (Science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-64695-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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


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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