An overlarge recipe, tasty but flawed.


The winners of a candy-making contest track a mysterious but crucial ingredient.

Although it was Philip who officially won the contest (The Candymakers, 2010) with his combination instrument/chocolate bar, Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Philip are secretly a team. But when the Harmonicandy comes off the line, something’s terribly wrong: it’s delicious, but Logan—who has acute senses—knows it tastes different from how it tasted during the contest. Discovering that they’d inadvertently used an unsourceable and barely definable type of chocolate, the kids embark on a road trip, hoping to comprehend and locate that unique cocoa bean. Mass packs in so many cool details and discoveries—a fancy RV, maps, candy, spy work, geocaching, long-lost relatives, cameos from Every Soul a Star (2008), startling microclimates, bioluminescent water, and more—that they sometimes overflow their wrapping. When each protagonist narrates in turn, keeping secrets from the others, it’s scrumptiously tantalizing; later, when the narrative viewpoint includes everyone, it’s blander. There’s an enjoyable, quaint friendliness overall. The world of the book is a largely white one, aside from Miles and his family, who are Chinese-American. The genre dips a bit into hand-waving fantasy explanations (including some magical healing of disability), which, ironically, somewhat lessens the magical feeling that The Candymakers wove from puzzle pieces, perspectives, and coincidence.

An overlarge recipe, tasty but flawed. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-08919-7

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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


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

Did you like this book?

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?