Budding heroes defeat class and gender expectations as well as the occasional monster in this wry outing.

ONCE UPON A TIM

Thinking that it’s better to be fake knights than real peasants, Tim and his best buddy, Belinda, sign up to rescue a captured princess.

Unaware that they’ve been snookered into a dastardly scheme, the two youngsters hear that Princess Grace from the next kingdom over has been carried off in the claws of a fearsome and funky “stinx” and volunteer to accompany (reputedly) brave and noble Prince Ruprecht and his (reputedly) powerful magician Nerlim on a rescue mission. Accompanied by village idiot Ferkle, whose habit of shoving mud in his pants effectively lowers the level of humor even further, the two ersatz knights weather the Forest of Doom, the River of Doom, and a “troll bridge” across the Chasm of Doom despite a suspicious lack of assistance from either the prince or the magician…and arrive to discover that neither the stinx nor the princess is quite as expected either. In fact, the princess ends up being the rescuer (“That’s what you call irony,” she comments) when Ruprecht and Nerlim announce their intention to seize her and do away with any inconvenient witnesses. Tim and Belinda are rewarded with promotions for their efforts; readers will come away with both a cogent warning from Gibbs about the dangers of falling for fake news and better vocabularies due to his penchant for flagging significant words like gullible and malodorous in the narrative and then pausing to define and use them in sample sentences. Along with a full-spread map, Curtis supplies frequent pen-and-ink sketches of the cast in comical poses and straits. The races and ethnicities of the characters are not specified in the text, though cover art depicts characters of various skin tones.

Budding heroes defeat class and gender expectations as well as the occasional monster in this wry outing. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9925-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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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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