Any yarn with the phrase “pinwheeling flatulence juggernaut” is a must-read, and not just for fans of Fowl play.

THE FOWL TWINS GET WHAT THEY DESERVE

From the Fowl Twins series , Vol. 3

Artemis Fowl’s preteen sibs have it out with archnemesis Lord Teddy Bleedham-Drye one last time.

Or so it would seem, though, considering Lord Teddy’s fondness for clones and the various nonpermanent fatalities in earlier episodes, nothing should be taken for granted. In a plot aptly framed as “a big bang, followed by a series of smaller bangs, then another big bang”—many of which turn out to be epic gaseous blasts or, to use the delighted Beckett’s term, “fartsplosions”—the evil genius’s latest (as the omniscient narrator puts it) “elaborate and unnecessarily complicated” revenge scheme pits young “aspiring mastermind” Myles and his action-loving brother, aided by diminutive but capable blue-skinned pixel (pixie-elf) Lazuli Heitz and the ghosts of a large number of indignant Bleedham-Dryes whom Lord Teddy has murdered over the years, against first a goblin hit squad then, climactically, an army of fireball-shooting goblins. Generous measures of banter and villainous gloating grease the wheels as well as ridiculous contrivances that pull the twins from any number of obviously hopeless pickles on the way to their hard-won triumph. In an epilogue set in Ho Chi Minh City, Colfer closes another series arc by dropping in a tantalizing revelation about Lazuli’s hidden parentage. Magical cast members come in a variety of colors; human ones read as White.

Any yarn with the phrase “pinwheeling flatulence juggernaut” is a must-read, and not just for fans of Fowl play. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-07567-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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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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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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