A light, fluffy marshmallow of a book.

GENIUS CAMP

From the Smartest Kid in the Universe series , Vol. 2

The smartest kid in the universe fights against an evil technocrat.

Jake McQuade, a White boy who has experienced an accidental rise from mediocrity, can’t let anyone know that a jarful of jelly beans is responsible for his skyrocketing IQ. This second installment in the series quickly catches up readers who might have missed the inciting events and then clips along to a new setting. Immature, tantrum-throwing bazillionaire Zane Zinkle was the smartest kid in the universe—and he is not dealing gracefully with his usurpation despite being 29. He devises a plot to get Jake and an assortment of other brilliant children to the eponymous camp for a project ominously called Operation Brain Drain while using his zPhone to brainwash everyone else. Short chapters, fart jokes, and rapturous descriptions of marshmallows will hook reluctant readers, while vague critiques of capitalism and technocracy might nudge readers to think. Lightly developed diversity is present in the supporting cast: Jake’s friends include Grace Garcia, a Spanish-speaking girl he has a crush on; Abia Sulayman, a hijabi girl who ensures the marshmallows are halal (some will remember her from the author’s 2017 title, Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race); and Kojo Shelton, Jake’s Black best friend who adores Kojak and has adopted one of his catchphrases.

A light, fluffy marshmallow of a book. (puzzle) (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30177-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read...

ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY

From the Mr. Lemoncello's Library series , Vol. 1

When a lock-in becomes a reality game, 12-year-old Kyle Keeley and his friends use library resources to find their way out of Alexandriaville’s new public library.

The author of numerous mysteries for children and adults turns his hand to a puzzle adventure with great success. Starting with the premise that billionaire game-maker Luigi Lemoncello has donated a fortune to building a library in a town that went without for 12 years, Grabenstein cleverly uses the tools of board and video games—hints and tricks and escape hatches—to enhance this intricate and suspenseful story. Twelve 12-year-old winners of an essay contest get to be the first to see the new facility and, as a bonus, to play his new escape game. Lemoncello’s gratitude to the library of his childhood extends to providing a helpful holographic image of his 1968 librarian, but his modern version also includes changing video screens, touch-screen computers in the reading desks and an Electronic Learning Center as well as floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stretching up three stories. Although the characters, from gamer Kyle to schemer Charles Chiltington, are lightly developed, the benefits of pooling strengths to work together are clear.

Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read is a winner for readers and game-players alike. (Mystery. 9-13)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87089-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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