Another strong entry in a series offering thrills and chills.


From the City of Ghosts series , Vol. 3

Cassidy Blake has encountered spirits before.

She’s met ghosts in Edinburgh and poltergeists in Paris, and now she’s in New Orleans, city of beignets, jazz funerals, and 42 cemeteries, where her parents are filming the third episode of their paranormal investigation program. It’s not long before Cassidy, an in-betweener who has escaped death and as a result can interact with the dead, catches the unwanted attention of an Emissary. This terrifying creature is unlike any spook Cassidy has ever dealt with; its job is to bring those who have defied death to the other side—those like 12-year-old Cassidy. In order to defeat the Emissary, Cassidy will lose something—or someone—no matter the path she chooses. Not knowing which road to follow is frightening, but the scariest thing of all is not knowing how this ends. Armed with her spirit-guiding pendant and accompanied by ghost Jacob Hale (whose foothold in the living world seems to be strengthening) and Scottish friend and fellow in-betweener Lara Chowdhury, Cassidy charges ahead. Intensely curious and furiously independent Cassidy must learn to proceed with caution and know when to ask for help. Her first-person narration is often interrupted by sarcastic Jacob, who can hear her thoughts, a narrative device that adds levity to the scares. The conclusion leaves the door open for another adventure. Cassidy is assumed White; there is diversity in the supporting cast.

Another strong entry in a series offering thrills and chills. (Paranormal adventure. 8-13)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-57487-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


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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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.


The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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