This word-based adventure falters in its oversimplification of a complicated place.


From the Word Travelers series

Two best friends have an etymological adventure.

Normally, Eddie, a White boy, and MJ, an Indian American girl, spend their sleepover Saturdays playing and watching movies. One special Saturday, however, they uncover Eddie’s grandfather’s tome on word origins. When they open what they call the Awesome Enchanted Book, it magically whisks them away to the Indian city of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. There, they meet a young Rajasthani prince named Dev who needs to find his family’s ancestral treasure to rebuild a village school destroyed in a typhoon. But Dev isn’t the only one after the treasure: A mustache-twirling White man named Mr. Raffles wants that money too. Together, the three kids race to solve the word-related clues in order to find the treasure first. While this etymologically themed series opener’s premise is promising, its execution oversimplifies India's complexity. Dev, for example, comes from a Hindu dynasty even though the book takes place largely in and around a city and monument constructed by ancient Muslim rulers, who are never mentioned as such. Additionally, the words tufan (source of typhoon) and pajama are identified only as Hindi in the glossary despite their journeys through Arabic and/or Persian; the phrase Holy Cow is introduced with no explanation of its colonialist origins. These choices shortchange both readers and premise. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This word-based adventure falters in its oversimplification of a complicated place. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-205-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet