This mouse-sized identity quest sparkles.

THE MOUSE WITH THE QUESTION MARK TAIL

Peck returns to the parallel mouse society he introduced in the effervescent Secrets at Sea (2011) for a rodent’s-eye view of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

Readers first meet the titular mouse, the book’s narrator, in the Royal Mews. A foundling, he’s been brought up by his “aunt” Marigold, who is fond of aphorisms. “Nameless is Blameless” is one of her favorites, used whenever her young charge asks who he is. Blameless he may be, but that doesn’t keep him out of scrapes. On the run from a couple of school bullies, he finds himself exposed, in his school uniform, on the floor of the royal riding school, where he is noticed by a human—most definitely not the done thing. In short order, he goes from this disgrace to refuge in a horse’s manger to a daylong stint as a Yeomouse of the Guard to the private chambers of Queen Victoria, where he blunders into secret upon secret, including, at the end, his identity. Peck binds this unlikely romp together with his characteristically witty and precise prose, flavored by an endearing blend of humility and superiority that only a British foundling mouse can muster. Details of the mouse world that bustles around and under the human world will enchant lovers of animal fantasy, and clever running jokes provide both humor and continuity (our poor hero is repeatedly asked, “Are you not yet full-grown, or just short?”).

This mouse-sized identity quest sparkles. (Animal fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3838-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

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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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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