Light on action, and heavy on witty banter, this prequel series kickoff is more for confirmed fans than those just coming to...

THE TOURNAMENT AT GORLAN

From the Ranger's Apprentice: The Early Years series , Vol. 1

Lord Morgarath, the baron of Gorlan Fief, has been systematically dismantling the Ranger Corps, a band of soldiers appointed to protect the kingdom of Araluen.

Crowley, a young Ranger, and Halt, a wicked bowman with a mysterious history, decide to re-establish the corps. However, with the king hiding in Castle Gorlan under the dubious protection of Morgarath, their only hope is Prince Duncan. Unfortunately, if the rumors are to be believed, the prince is too busy leading parties of drunken soldiers on illegal raids to be bothered with the business of ruling. However, Halt and Crowley soon learn that Morgarath’s plan is far more complicated than they first surmised. Soon their goal is to save not only the corps, but the entire kingdom of Araluen. Flanagan revisits his epic series by exploring its early days. Halt is not yet a Ranger, Will is still just an orphan, and any romance between Halt and Pauline is only just beginning. Jousting, sword fighting, and subterfuge are all business as usual for Rangers, but Crowley and Halt manage it with a hearty helping of sarcasm and humor. This origin story is richly detailed and carefully planned but slow-moving.

Light on action, and heavy on witty banter, this prequel series kickoff is more for confirmed fans than those just coming to know the Rangers. (Adventure. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16361-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

more