Appealing young male protagonists, a touch of magic, respect for nature and human connection, and plenty of action.

THE FIREFLY WARRIORS CLUB

From the Texas Boys Adventures series , Vol. 1

A Texas boy and his cousin face unexpected challenges when trying to protect fireflies in this middle-grade novel.

In Book 1 of the new Texas Boys Adventures series by Count, 12-year-old Davy, a budding entomologist, arrives for a summer visit at his grandfather’s farm, “the best insect observation site he knew.” At first, it seems that annoying younger cousin Anderson will spoil Davy’s plans, until the two discover a colony of endangered fireflies, which communicate by flashing in code, in the forest on the edge of Grandpa’s farm. Davy learns that a neighboring farmer’s pasture-clearing is decimating the fireflies’ habitat. He and Anderson decide to become “Firefly Warriors,” seeking ways to help the glowing insects. The author’s touch of the supernatural in the plot is deftly balanced with the boys’ lively, reality-based adventures and by strong messaging about insects and their vital place in the world’s ecology, under threat from pesticides and loss of habitat. “If the insects die, then everything that needs them for food dies too,” Davy says. (Davy’s knowledge about nature isn’t restricted to fireflies. His opportunities for sharing facts about insects and other wildlife arise naturally in conversation—and during a scary encounter with a rat snake.) Davy learns of a possible solution to the fireflies’ plight that would allow farmers to turn part of their land over to wildlife preservation, but before he can promote this idea, a raging fire breaks out, threatening farms and forest and sending the fireflies’ chances for survival plummeting. Davy and Anderson will use their strength and ingenuity to corral frightened cattle and help firefighters’ efforts to control the blaze, but will they be able to help the fireflies? Meanwhile, the successful, warm heart of the novel is found in the changing dynamic between Davy and Anderson and in subtle character-building messages about friendship, empathy, and courage in the face of fear. A handful of cleanly rendered, black-and-white line drawings illustrate the action; the back of the book includes numerous firefly facts.

Appealing young male protagonists, a touch of magic, respect for nature and human connection, and plenty of action.

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9970883-2-8

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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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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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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