A scary adventure mixed with shadows and suspense.

THE SHADOW CITY

From the Five Elements series , Vol. 2

Gabe, Lily, Brett, and Kaz are four friends bonded by the elemental powers—fire, air, water, and earth, respectively—gained from a secret friendship ritual performed in series opener The Emerald Tablet (2016).

After having survived an attack on the island of Alcatraz, the four friends have successfully stayed hidden and kept the Emerald Tablet from the evil cult that’s after it, the Eternal Dawn. Their annoying tag-along, Jackson, aka Ghost Boy, a time traveler trapped in the present, becomes a new ally, offering his power of a fifth element, magick. The diverse group of kids (Lily and Brett are Latino, Kaz is Asian-American, and Gabe and Jackson are white) attempt to find the secrets that will destroy Arcadia, or the Shadow World, a dark alternative reality that exists alongside San Francisco. As they use their powers to fight off large, winged batlike creatures and the oozing, flying, tentacled creatures of Arcadia, they also search for clues that will lead them to Gabe’s missing uncle Steve and mother, whom they believe to be trapped in Arcadia. When one of their own shows signs of treachery, what lies behind the betrayal is revealed by the evil leader of the cult, Jonathan Thorne. This sequel is a bit darker than its predecessor, as Jolley adds such icky details as blood cocoons, along with an ending that is reminiscent of Stranger Things, an unsettling cliffhanger readers might want not to encounter just before bedtime.

A scary adventure mixed with shadows and suspense. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-241167-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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A voyage both singular and universal, marked by sharply felt risks and rewards and deep waters beneath.

NORTHWIND

A solitary young traveler paddles through an archipelago of natural, often dangerous, wonders, learning as he goes.

Though the metaphorical layer lies barely beneath the surface in this short novel, Paulsen’s spare prose and legendary knowledge of the challenges and techniques of wilderness survival make the journey through a landscape that evokes historical Scandinavia compelling reading. Sole survivor—and that just barely—of the gruesomely depicted cholera that sweeps through his camp, 12-year-old Leif comes away with a dugout canoe, a few basic outdoor skills, and the command from a dying, respected elder to head north. Subsisting largely on blackberries and salmon, he travels a winding route through fjords and a seemingly endless string of islets and inlets where he finds both danger and delight in searching for food and shelter, literally coming face to face with bears and whales, struggling to survive a deadly tidal whirlpool, and coming to understand the importance of seeing and learning from the ways and rhythms of “this place and all places that will come to me.” Calling on memories, Paulsen writes in an autobiographical afterword of his Norwegian immigrant grandmother’s tales. References to Odin and whalers give the setting a timelessly folkloric feeling. Final art not seen.

A voyage both singular and universal, marked by sharply felt risks and rewards and deep waters beneath. (Historical adventure. 9-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-31420-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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