A perky marketing ploy—but not a piece of literature.


This “debut” blends satire and allegory as well as TV characters and literature.

The horror of masculinity in the violently gender-segregated world of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy meets the early feminist-separatist vision of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland (1915). Set that strange fan fiction in a Candyland-scape, and you’ve got the branded television content that is this title. It opens with 12-year-old Penn (black, according to the cover illustration) wondering when he will turn into a Grabagorn, “enormous and strong, with icy blue skin and a set of horns.” Penn lives in a desolate land without women, who apparently were all killed by dragons. But then he discovers three girls caught in a trap and learns that the girls and women haven’t been killed but in fact escaped. Penn and his new friend Kristy (white on the cover) go on an adventure to restore gender equality through mindfulness and communication. Credited ghostwriter Mlynowski tries to deliver a very specific message about feminism while reinforcing all sorts of unhelpful stereotypes. Apparently men left to their own devices are flatulence-obsessed brutes incapable of asking for directions, and women are naturally cooperative, anger-averse nurturers prone to uptalking. A cameo referencing a gay character from the TV series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt implies that gay men are a kind of third sex who prefer the company of women.

A perky marketing ploy—but not a piece of literature. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53575-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

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Dizzyingly silly.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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


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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