Good sleuthing fun supported by compelling character arcs.


From the Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective series , Vol. 2

Deer Creek’s middle school ninja detectives of The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit (2013) take on crime in New York City. 

There’s not a lot of excitement and crime in Deer Creek, so Randi can’t wait for her Thanksgiving visit with her Brooklyn aunt. But her father’s publisher wants to send him on a book tour that week, devastating Randi when he chooses work over family. Luckily, Pudge’s dad offers Randi and D.C. (whose father has just canceled his Thanksgiving visit, which would have been the first visit in years) a ride to New York, as it’s on the way to Pudge’s grandmother in Boston. They talk Pudge’s dad into letting him stay in New York, beginning his rule-free vacation—a comedic subplot. But the museum across from her aunt’s apartment is hosting an exhibition of priceless Fabergé eggs, and shady characters are circling. Around their uncovering a mob boss’ schemes, Randi and D.C. grow through their subplots. D.C.’s attempts to locate his father undermine his confidence but bring him into contact with a personal hero and an exciting opportunity. Randi learns cool secrets about her deceased mother, which she absorbs with believable complexity. Ultimately, they help her to come to a mature understanding of her father. The character development gracefully augments the fun high jinks of the heist storyline.

Good sleuthing fun supported by compelling character arcs. (spy tips, crafts, recipes) (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7684-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Dizzyingly silly.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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