Inventive in detail if predictable in plot, this should please fans of the first volume.

A HERO FOR WONDLA

Long on action and atmosphere, with detailed descriptions and illustrations of the odd world of Orbona, Eva Nine’s adventures pick up just where they ended (The Search for WondLa, 2010).

In the ruins of an ancient city, an airship has appeared, piloted by the first other human Eva has ever seen. Hailey (think a teenage Han Solo) promises to deliver Eva and Rovender to New Attica (the reference will doubtless be lost on young readers), where the human population lives beneath a giant dome. Once there, Eva gets briefly caught up in its glamour and novelty before a strangely familiar young woman opens her eyes to the destructive intentions of the colony’s leader. A complicated escape and a series of chases ensue, with dramatic battles, a stop to reunite Rovender with his estranged family, betrayal by an ostensible ally, a mystical encounter and an attempt to rescue friends from danger. Once again, a not-terribly-surprising surprise ending sets up the next installment. The pace is faster and DiTerlizzi’s voice is stronger in this sequel, but it still feels like less than the sum of its parts. The accompanying website offers games, character descriptions and an "Augmented Reality" flying game. Full interactivity requires a webcam and a software download and may or may not increase readers’ enjoyment.

Inventive in detail if predictable in plot, this should please fans of the first volume. (Science fiction/fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4169-8312-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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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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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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