As always, hilarious; perhaps the strongest Princess in Black outing since the first.

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK TAKES A VACATION

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 4

As the title suggests, the Princess in Black attempts to take a much-needed vacation.

Worn down by constant monster alarms, Princess Magnolia, aka the Princess in Black, can hardly stay awake when fighting the furry, brightly colored monsters menacing her kingdom—this is seen in a funny fight sequence where her usual attacks have been replaced with such maneuvers as the “sluggish swing” and “double dozy.” Luckily, a new hero arrives: the Goat Avenger, who has the same height and smile as Duff the goat boy but “couldn’t be Duff. Duff did not wear a mask.” Duff—as the Goat Avenger—suggests that the princess needs a vacation and offers to handle monster duty in her absence. Princess Magnolia hits the beach and runs into Princess Sneezewort before settling in for a nap—which is promptly interrupted by a giant rampaging sea monster! This nifty battle sequence alternates with scenes of Duff, who amps himself up for battling monsters, liberates a squirrel that has set off a false alarm, and is finally assisted by the squirrel in facing an acorn monster. The dual storylines keep the pace exciting, and—even though the protagonist is sleepy—the art is energetic and charming. Princess Magnolia has fair skin, Duff’s is a little bit darker, and the beachgoers are pleasingly diverse.

As always, hilarious; perhaps the strongest Princess in Black outing since the first. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6512-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

CAPTAIN AWESOME TO THE RESCUE!

From the Captain Awesome series , Vol. 1

The town of Sunnyview got a little bit safer when 8-year-old Eugene McGillicudy moved in.

Just like his comic-book mentor, Super Dude, Eugene, aka Captain Awesome, is on a one-man mission is to save the world from supervillains, like the nefarious “Queen Stinkypants from Planet Baby.” Just as Eugene suspected, plenty of new supervillains await him at Sunnyview Elementary. Are Meredith Mooney and the mind-reading Ms. Beasley secretly working together to try and force Eugene to reveal his secret identity? Will Principal Brick Foot succeed in throwing Captain Awesome into the “Dungeon of Detention?” Fortunately, Eugene isn’t forced to go it alone. Charlie Thomas Jones, fellow comic-book lover and Super Dude fan, stands ready and willing to help. When the class hamster goes missing, Captain Awesome must don his cape and, with the help of his new best friend, ride to the rescue. Kirby’s funny and engaging third-person narration and O’Connor’s hilarious illustrations make the book easily accessible and enormously appealing, particularly to readers who have recently graduated to chapter books. But it is the quirky, mischievous Eugene that really makes this book special. His energy and humor are contagious, and his dogged commitment to his superhero alter ego is enough to make anyone a believer.  

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4090-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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A strong series start.

GAME OVER, SUPER RABBIT BOY!

From the Press Start! series , Vol. 1

In a video game, a superpowered rabbit must rescue a singing dog that brings everyone happiness.

In the frame story, a brown-skinned human protagonist plays a video game on a handheld console evocative of the classic Nintendo Gameboy. The bulk of the book relates the game’s storyline: Animal Town is a peaceful place where everyone is delighted by Singing Dog, until the fun-hating King Viking (whose black-mustachioed, pink-skinned looks reference the Super Mario Brothers game series villain, Wario) uses his army of robots to abduct Singing Dog. To save Singing Dog—and fun—the animals send the fastest among them, Simon the Hedgehog, to get Super Rabbit Boy (who gains speed and jumping powers by eating special carrots) to save the day. The chapters take Super Rabbit Boy through video game levels, with classic, video game–style settings and enemies. Throughout the book, when the game’s player loses either a life in the game or the game entirely, the unnamed kid must choose to persevere and not give up. The storylines are differentiated by colorful art styles—cartoonish for the real world, 8-bit pixel-sprite–style for the game. The fast, repetitive plot uses basic, simple sentences and child-friendly objects of interest, such as lakes of lava, for children working on reading independence, while the nerdy in-jokes benefit adults reading with a child.

A strong series start. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-03472-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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