Clever, funny, and sweet in equal measures.

AUDACITY JONES TO THE RESCUE

From the Audacity Jones series , Vol. 1

Audacity travels to Washington, D.C., where she foils a kidnapping plot at the White House.

Audie is the only actual orphan at Miss Maisie’s School for Wayward Girls in Swayzee, Indiana. She’s also the only one who must spend time in the dreaded “Punishment Room,” which is really an extensive library that she keeps secret from the others. Only an extremely clever stray cat, Min, keeps her company there. When the wealthy Commodore Crutchfield requests an orphan for a mission, Audie volunteers. With Min as a stowaway, they travel to Washington, but she soon learns that not all is on the level: there’s wickedness afoot. Posing as a cook’s assistant, she winds up in the White House, where she meets the president and learns of the plot to kidnap his niece. Audie, Min, and Juice, a spunky newspaper boy, team up to foil the crime. Larson infuses her romp with plenty of humor, making Audacity, her cat, and friends into lively, likable characters. With characteristic deftness, she weaves her historical material seamlessly into the story; Audacity is a modern girl, but her modern time is 1910. She marvels at the new automobiles that are replacing horses as transportation. The story’s focus on Audacity’s remarkable cat, with some chapters told from the cat’s point of view, adds just another element of charm.

Clever, funny, and sweet in equal measures. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-84056-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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