VICTORY

In a blend of history and time travel, blood ties connect a girl in August 2006 with Sam Robbins, ship’s boy aboard the British battleship Victory two centuries before. Molly (11), struggling to acclimate to a blended family and move from London to Connecticut, buys an old copy of Southey’s The Life of Nelson. In it she finds a secreted inscription and Sam’s tiny remnant of the Victory’s flag, flown during the Battle of Trafalgar. The narrative shifts between Molly’s second-person present passages (laced with mysterious leaks—via unremembered dreams and waking visions—of life aboard the Victory) and Sam’s vivid, first-person past recounting of pressed service—as virtual galley slave, then cannon crew “powder monkey”—during the Napoleonic War. On a quick visit “home” before school’s start, touring the restored Victory at Portsmouth with Granddad, Molly’s prescience sharpens, mirroring Sam’s experiences. She goes missing for four hours, curled unconscious in an interior cabin, seemingly witnessing the hellish Battle of Trafalgar and the mortal wounding of beloved Vice-Admiral Nelson. In the U.S., Molly commits Sam’s bit of flag to a sea burial, tying up this compelling, tautly rigged tale. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: July 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4169-1477-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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ONE CRAZY SUMMER

A flight from New York to Oakland, Calif., to spend the summer of 1968 with the mother who abandoned Delphine and her two sisters was the easy part. Once there, the negative things their grandmother had said about their mother, Cecile, seem true: She is uninterested in her daughters and secretive about her work and the mysterious men in black berets who visit. The sisters are sent off to a Black Panther day camp, where Delphine finds herself skeptical of the worldview of the militants while making the best of their situation. Delphine is the pitch-perfect older sister, wise beyond her years, an expert at handling her siblings: “Just like I know how to lift my sisters up, I also knew how to needle them just right.” Each girl has a distinct response to her motherless state, and Williams-Garcia provides details that make each characterization crystal clear. The depiction of the time is well done, and while the girls are caught up in the difficulties of adults, their resilience is celebrated and energetically told with writing that snaps off the page. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-076088-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2010

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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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