Puzzle lovers who pick the book up wanting to hang out in the Gollywhopper world one more time will find themselves with a...

THE NEW CHAMPION

From the Gollywhopper Games series , Vol. 2

Bert Golliwop and his executive team at Golly Toy and Game Company decide to hold a second round of Gollywhopper Games in this sequel.

Enter 12-year-old Cameron, an ordinary middle child with an actual ticket to said games courtesy of older brother Spencer, who entered him thinking it would double his chances to get in. Mild-mannered Cameron might never have considered it. Spencer plays all the angles, and his competitiveness keeps the brothers at odds throughout. Cameron doesn’t think much of his chances and really believes that his family hasn’t any faith in him either, but he finds the games’ puzzles intriguing. His video camera—his lifelong companion—has trained him to see things cinematically, and his observation skills become key. Readers might feel that they are following Cameron to his inevitable, big win, but Feldman is canny and employs hints of a possible act of sabotage to keep the outcome slightly more uncertain. Every puzzle is clearly explained but never too quickly, giving readers a chance to make their own guesses. (There are some amusing posers, but nothing requires calculus.) Some moral and ethical questions arise, but there’s no time for soul-searching in this mildly amusing entertainment.

Puzzle lovers who pick the book up wanting to hang out in the Gollywhopper world one more time will find themselves with a better-than-average sequel. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-221125-5

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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