A lively combination of ancient history, religion, and thrilling magic.


From the Scarlett and Sam series

Scarlett and Sam are off again (Escape from Egypt, 2015) on Grandma Mina’s magic flying carpet, this time to ancient Jerusalem.

There they meet King Solomon, who is new on the job, overseeing an impoverished Israel. They immediately witness the event that will define this wise king, as he mediates two women’s dispute over a baby. He has been commanded by God to build a temple without using iron tools but does not have other means to cut the stones. The Jewish twins find themselves involved in a quest to find the shamir, a creature that can cut stones just by looking at them. With guard captain B.Z. (short for Benayahu ben Yehoiada), the prophet Nathan, and Solomon’s ring, which holds the power of God, they find the demon Ashmodai who is holding the shamir. Dangers, duplicity, and acts of courage ensue, and they triumph. While the ancient characters do not know what the future holds (with one odd exception), Scarlett and Sam have learned in Hebrew school of the people and events of the Torah, as well as the midrashim, the stories and legends that complement the Torah. Kimmel takes a nontraditional approach, employing 21st-century syntax and sensibilities for all the characters, making the tale accessible for modern readers, whatever their religions. Stevanovic’s manga-like gray-toned illustrations nicely merge the ancient with the contemporary.

A lively combination of ancient history, religion, and thrilling magic. (author’s note) (Historical fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-2937-4

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


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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Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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