Readers’ ribs aren’t the only ones that get a vigorous tickle in this aquatic escapade.

OLIVER AND THE SEAWIGS

From the Not-So-Impossible Tales series , Vol. 1

Receiving help from a nearsighted mermaid and a self-propelling island with self-esteem issues, a young lad sets out to rescue his explorer parents.

Having spent all 10 years of his life climbing mountains and exploring trackless jungles with his parents, Oliver Crisp is well-equipped to chase after the Thurlstone, an evil floating island that has added his mom and dad to its elaborate crown of sea wrack. It’s one of the Rambling Isles, on its way to the Hallowed Shallows for the Night of the Seawigs, a celebration held every seven years to give the islands a chance to show off all the stuff they’ve collected. Fortunately, another peripatetic island, this one so mild-mannered it hasn’t got a name, befriends Oliver. Together with Iris the mermaid and a sniffy albatross, Oliver and the newly named Cliff set out to get Oliver’s parents back. Before the rescue can come off, though, Oliver must stand up to the smart-mouthed seaweed of the Sarcastic Sea, get past an army of green furred, hyperactive sea monkeys spilling “down the Thurlstone’s face like a river of snot,” and face like unusual challenges. McIntyre illustrates Reeve’s sly and dashing tale with simply drawn cartoon monkeys (lots of monkeys) and other figures peeking in from the margins or tucking themselves between passages of text.

Readers’ ribs aren’t the only ones that get a vigorous tickle in this aquatic escapade. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-38788-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

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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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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