A charming tale of identity, migration, gentrification, and organized resistance.

OH, RATS!

After being kidnapped by Walter, a chatty red-tailed hawk, a spunky New Jersey squirrel needs to adjust to life with wharf rats on a Manhattan pier.

When a violent encounter with hot tar and then a dunk in the Hudson leaves red squirrel Phoenix without his signature dashing fur and adrift in the middle of a dizzying city, sister and brother rats Lucy and Beckett (who also reads and writes) take him in. Soon their community of wharf rats discovers that an odious New York developer (ahem!) named P.J. Weeks is tearing down their beloved pier to build tennis courts. Unlike squirrels, wharf rats are highly organized in their resistance to human encroachment. Phoenix is enlisted to sabotage the electrical grid, surprising even himself with the results. When Walter eventually returns and offers Phoenix a ride back to his original home, a moment of truth allows Phoenix to choose the life that feels most relevant to his newer self. Veteran author Seidler sets just the right pace, with a skillfully drawn handful of characters and an adept rendering of Phoenix’s transformation from squirrel to rat. The novel’s ambiance, allegory, and illustrations are more reminiscent of mid-20th-century classics than recent anthropomorphic animal fare despite the very current theme.

A charming tale of identity, migration, gentrification, and organized resistance. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2684-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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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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Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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