A great read for Star Wars fans young and old.

A TEST OF COURAGE

From the Star Wars: The High Republic series

After rogue bandits catastrophically sabotage a luxury liner on its passage across the stars, a group of young survivors finds refuge on a distant moon far from home.

The hubbub at Port Haileap surrounds the opulent Steady Wing, a vessel with a course set for a commemoration of the launch of Starlight Beacon, the Republic’s latest emissary for hope across the wild of the Outer Rim. Vernestra Rwoh—a green-skinned child prodigy and newly appointed Jedi Knight of 16—must accompany and protect senator’s daughter Avon Starros, a precocious 12-year-old brown-skinned girl with a science-oriented mind. Joining Vern’s mission is J-6, Avon’s sassy bodyguard droid. Shortly after takeoff, explosions rock the Steady Wing, killing almost all the passengers. Vern, Avon, and J-6 manage to escape, joined by Honesty Weft, the distraught son of an ambassador who perishes, and Imri Cantaros, a 14-year-old Padawan who loses his master. With little recourse, the group lands on a far-off moon thick with peculiar jungles and deadly rain, eluding the grasp of dangers that shadow them. This tale ends with a promise of more dangerous times ahead, and Ireland’s attention to conflict building feeds nicely into that guarantee. Rich internal third-person dialogue reveals dollops of inner turmoil for each character (sans droid) at key moments as well as providing some much-needed worldbuilding to make this a winning choice.

A great read for Star Wars fans young and old. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-05730-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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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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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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