Kids who already dig the series will probably like this one.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE COSMIC BEYOND

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 4

Jack Sullivan and his friends battle interdimensional evil in a Cthulhu-inspired Christmas special.

Readers coming to the series midstream can breathe easy. Jack gives them a “real-deal recap” right away, explaining all about the Monster Apocalypse, the zombie plague, and the possibility of other human survivors holed up in the Statue of Liberty. This new installment includes sledding disasters, the gang’s attempt to introduce monsters to the wonders of Christmas, and a human girl who always sympathized with villains attempting to unleash unspeakable horrors on Earth. There are several appeal factors for readers who need some pizzazz with their plot; monsterrific illustrations that take the place of description or exposition, liberal use of italics and ALL CAPS, up-to-the-second pop-culture references, and some tame gross-out humor. The cast is racially diverse according to the illustrations; Jack and Dirk look white, Quint appears black, and June, who “knows Spanish, because her parents spoke it at home,” is implied Latina. However, the Christmas-centered plot and the casual usage of “lame” as an insult may prevent some readers from connecting with the story. A few moral lessons about the importance of friendship are scattered throughout, but depth and nuanced characterization come across as halfhearted gestures that are of secondary importance compared to monsters, weapons, and putatively awesome adventures.

Kids who already dig the series will probably like this one. (Horror. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-4252-9208-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

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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