THE PIRATES OF CROCODILE SWAMP

After a wild ride down I-95 with their unpredictably violent father, Sandy and Jack Casperin find themselves in the Florida Keys, far from home. Escaping the man who accidentally killed their younger brother and maybe their mother, the boys, 11 and nine, head for a crocodile swamp, hoping to hide and live off the land. Arnosky’s passion for this part of the world is evident, and the mangrove-swamp setting becomes the focus of this survival story. An unlikely situation and minimally developed characters will not keep readers from being caught up in the action as the boys encounter crocodiles, a hammerhead shark and poisonous snakes, as well as less dangerous creatures and a helpful, elderly Cuban fisherman living nearby on a boat. Jack is an enthusiastic nature watcher, full of information that he happily passes on to his older brother, who tells the story, and to readers. Pilot-pen sketches decorate the pages and open each chapter. This sure-to-please adventure for middle-grade readers is a promising new direction for the prolific nature writer. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25068-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2009

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Pilkey is still having entirely too much fun with this popular series, which continues to careen along with nary a whiff of...

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE WRATH OF THE WICKED WEDGIE WOMAN

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 5

Trying to salvage failing grades, George and Harold use their handy 3-D Hypno Ring on termagant teacher Ms. Ribble—and succeed only in creating a supervillain with a medusa-like ’do and a yen to conquer the world with wedgie power. 

Using a pair of robot sidekicks and plenty of spray starch, she even overcomes Captain Underpants. Is it curtains (or rather, wedgies) for all of us? Can the redoubtable fourth graders rescue the Waistband Warrior (a.k.a. Principal Krupp) and find a way to save the day? Well, duh. Not, of course, without an epic battle waged in low-budget Flip-O-Rama, plus no fewer than three homemade comics, including an “Origin of Captain Underpants” in which we learn that his home planet of Underpantyworld was destroyed by the . . . wait for it . . . “Starch Ship Enterprize.” As in the previous four episodes, neither the pace nor the funky humor (“Diapers and toilets and poop . . . oh my!”) lets up for a moment.  Pilkey is still having entirely too much fun with this popular series, which continues to careen along with nary a whiff of staleness. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-04999-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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KENNY & THE DRAGON

Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—“Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem”—DiTerlizzi dials down the original’s violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight’s “Oriental language”) in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author’s finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3977-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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