What a week for the Kanes. If they don’t quite vanquish evil for all time, they at least avert disaster long enough for...

THE THRONE OF FIRE

From the Kane Chronicles series , Vol. 2

In Carter and Sadie Kane's last adventure (The Red Pyramid, 2010), they fought Set, god of evil; now the stakes are even higher.

Apophis, god of Chaos, is rising, and he’s in a whole different league. Related as a transcript of an audio recording made by Carter and Sadie, the tale begins with a bang in the Brooklyn Museum. They manage to smash up the museum, set Brooklyn on fire and ride off in an Egyptian reed boat pulled by a screeching griffin, and that’s just in the first 30 pages. The dynamic duo survives their first adventure with a scroll in hand or, more precisely, a third of a scroll. They must now find the other two thirds to piece together the Book of Ra. The plan: to awaken Ra, the powerful Egyptian sun god, to counter Apophis. From Brooklyn, it’s on to London, Russia, Egypt and the River of Night. This volume begins so thunderously that the narrators seem more like frenetic tour guides than friendly companions, pulling readers along at a breakneck pace. Riordan supplies them with his trademark wisecracking voice and explores themes of power, responsibility, family, love and loyalty as the tale hurtles along.

What a week for the Kanes. If they don’t quite vanquish evil for all time, they at least avert disaster long enough for Riordan to write Book Three, coming the spring of 2012. (Fantasy. 8-14)

Pub Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4056-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2011

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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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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