A lively, magical tale of ancient times with a modern ethos.

WHALE OF A TALE

From the Scarlett and Sam series , Vol. 3

Scarlett and Sam are off on another magic carpet adventure (Escape From Egypt, 2015; Search for the Shamir, 2018), this time in the company of the prophet Jonah.

When the children take Grandma Mina’s centuries-old carpet to be cleaned, the cab driver, Jonah, tells them he is hiding from a very powerful boss. At their destination, Jonah speeds off with the carpet still in the trunk. They try to stop him and immediately find themselves in Jaffa in ancient Judea, where they discover that their carpet has been sold to pay for passage on a ship. They jump onto the ship, where Jonah is aboard, still refusing to obey God’s commandment to go to Nineveh to preach forgiveness to the Assyrians who have destroyed Israel and enslaved its people. Jonah wants revenge—not forgiveness. Just like the Bible story, there’s an intense storm, forcing Sam and Scarlett to jump overboard with Jonah, and they are swallowed into the belly of a megalodon (the huge prehistoric shark is, after all, a “great fish”). After myriad dangers and twists, Jonah reluctantly fulfills his duty and the children are safely returned home with a greater knowledge of their Jewish heritage. Kimmel employs modern syntax and references, matching the breakneck pace of the action. Sam and Scarlett are resourceful and wise beyond their years as they deal with an exasperating and stubborn Jonah. Stevanovic’s manga-inflected, grayscale illustrations feel both ancient and modern.

A lively, magical tale of ancient times with a modern ethos. (Historical fiction/fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2216-9

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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