Bearing all the campy hallmarks and high drama of a classic superhero romp, this entertaining but formulaic tale also...

BUG GIRL

From the Bug Girl series , Vol. 1

An insect-obsessed sixth-grader must convince her snobby former best friend to join forces with her in order to save their mothers from a dastardly villain.

Twelve-year-old earnest, smart Amanda has been badly stung by her image-conscious friend Emily’s mean-girl behavior, which commenced at the same time they started middle school. When, however, their mothers go missing even as strange, monstrous creatures rampage through their town, a set of clues left behind by Amanda’s mother guides her to a new understanding about herself and about special powers she and Emily both possess. Readers will recognize the ugly social-clique dynamics depicted here and will enjoy the irony of Amanda’s reclamation of the once-taunting name “Bug Girl.” Stylized, cartoonish line drawings are featured on many pages, complementing the jazzy, futuristic design, and they match the novel’s playful tone well. The main characters all seem to be white, with the exception of Emily’s family’s Latina housekeeper, Frida. Amanda’s pal Vincent’s fashion know-how proves a boon to her, and her funny and sweet grandfather is genuinely endearing. A clear setup at the end suggests there will be more to come for this science-minded protagonist.

Bearing all the campy hallmarks and high drama of a classic superhero romp, this entertaining but formulaic tale also features interesting entomological tidbits throughout. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-10661-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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