Books by Brett Helquist

THE NUTCRACKER MICE by Kristin Kladstrup
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 24, 2017

"Dance, drama, and a star turn make this a page-turning tale. (author's note) (Animal fantasy. 9-12)"
Ballet is beautiful for a mouse ballerina. Read full book review >
THE LEAGUE OF SEVEN by Alan Gratz
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 19, 2014

"Action, banter and steampunk-style tech aplenty—plus truly icky foes inspired, the author acknowledges, by the creations of H.P. Lovecraft—make this an appealingly fast-paced trilogy opener. (Fantasy/steampunk. 11-13)"
Gratz works an unusual twist into the familiar teens-saving-the-Earth-from-monsters trope: The protagonist is both archetypal hero and, at least potentially, nemesis. Read full book review >
THE SHADOWHAND COVENANT by Brian Farrey
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 22, 2013

"High-spirited fun, with complexity and surprises. (Fantasy. 8-12)"
Through mayhem and twists, Jaxter's cheeky attitude keeps this second volume flowing (The VengekeepProphecies, 2012). Read full book review >
THE FORT THAT JACK BUILT by Boni Ashburn
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 3, 2013

"Alas, no substitute for a real pretend fort. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Small Jack makes a fort in the living room with a number of household items that the rest of his family needs back. Read full book review >
GRUMPY GOAT by Brett Helquist
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 1, 2013

"The book fails to address the roots of Goat's bad temper or his turnaround, equating them with dandelions in the wind, and may leave readers feeling grumpy with the lack of a true problem or solution. (Picture book. 4-7)"
An out-of-sorts goat goes back and forth between grumpy and happy in this slight tale with a murky message. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 23, 2012

"Bangers! (Fantasy. 8-12)"
There couldn't be a more likable family of thieves. Read full book review >
THE RISE AND FALL OF MOUNT MAJESTIC by Jennifer Trafton
ADVENTURE
Released: Dec. 1, 2010

"Happily, the debut author's wry wit and flashes of satire mitigate many deficits. (Fantasy. 9-13)"
The inhabitants of the Island at the Center of Everything are inclined to take things to extremes. Read full book review >
ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS by Neil Gaiman
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

"All in all, another winner. (Fantasy. 8 & up)"
Gaiman does it again, this time featuring a lame young boy, talking animals and intrigue in Asgard. Read full book review >
A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

"This abridgement makes the original story accessible to a wide age range and would be a fine preparation for families preparing to attend a theatrical production of A Christmas Carol. (Picture book. 7-12)"
The beloved Christmas classic is skillfully adapted for this simplified introduction to the tale, amplified by large-format art from the illustrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Read full book review >
THE LUMP OF COAL by Lemony Snicket
FICTION
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

"The volume's size, as well as the book in general, may strike many as diminutive, which here means small in stature, but make no mistake as to its usefulness, as many a Christmas stocking will accept such an endeavor in lieu of a real lump of coal. (Picture book. 8 & up)"
One might say that Snicket, author of the wildly successful A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Helquist, the illustrator of same, have diminished their talents with this short, illustrated Christmas story about a talking lump of coal. Read full book review >
THE CALDER GAME by Blue Balliett
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2008

"While a fourth adventure's intimated, problematic construction and too many tidy dei ex machinis (including their nasty teacher's turning terrific) mar this one. (author's notes) (Fiction. 9-12)"
Balliett's third mystery falls short of Chasing Vermeer's brilliance, and the triangular friendship among Calder, Petra and Tommy, skillfully developed in The Wright 3, receives bumpier treatment here (2004; 2006). Read full book review >
THE WRIGHT 3 by Blue Balliett
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2006

"Another tour de force blending art, math, philosophy, history and literature. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-12)"
The determined sleuths from Balliett's fine first novel, Chasing Vermeer (2004), return in another artful mystery, centered on one of Chicago's architectural treasures. Read full book review >
CAPT. HOOK by J.V. Hart
ADVENTURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

"A thought-provoking character portrait, though modern readers will make heavy weather of the first part's dated references and dialogue. (Fantasy. 11-13)"
In a first novel only tangentially related to the film Hook (1991), for which he wrote the screenplay, Hart casts the renowned villain as a strong-minded teenager undergoing some early formative experiences both on and off the playing fields of Eton. Read full book review >
CHASING VERMEER by Blue Balliett
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2004

"Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler or Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game will find equal pleasure in this debut by a talented writer. (Fiction. 11-14)"
Art, intrigue, and plenty of twists and turns make this art mystery a great read. Read full book review >
ROGER, THE JOLLY PIRATE by Brett Helquist
ADVENTURE
Released: April 1, 2004

"A bit of spindrift for young pirate fans, capped by a brief ballad (not seen). (Picture book. 7-9)"
Helquist takes a break from illustrating "A Series of Unfortunate Events" for a solo debut, offering an eye-rolling account of the pirate flag's origin. Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 1, 2003

"Younger readers may have to go to librarians or well-read parents to have some of the in-jokes explained, but for all pup writers, not to mention the next Newboney Committee, this is a 'must-chew.' (Fiction. 9-11)"
In the latest Bunnicula spinoff, canine author Howie sets his sights on winning a coveted "Newboney" Award, enlisting the advice of heartthrob Delilah, who not only offers cogent advice—"It also helps if the characters are poor and somebody dies . . . or if the main character, usually a child and preferably an orphan, goes on a long journey. Read full book review >
MILLIE AND THE MACY’S PARADE by Shana Corey
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

"Of course, this is not actually how the parade was conceived, but the story is fun, and readers can compare the imagined version with the historical note at the end. (Picture book. 4-8)"
This lusciously illustrated tale of how the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade may have originated features a young Milly, whose immigrant father is saddened at the prospect of spending holidays in America. Read full book review >
THE REVENGE OF RANDAL REESE-RAT by Tor Seidler
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 20, 2001

"Loyally and lovably ratty. (Fiction. 8-12)"
Though a rational ratriot, Randal Reese-Rat can't help being jealous and slightly embarrassed at the way Montague Mad-Rat both saved ratkind and stole his fiancé from him in A Rat's Tale (1986). Read full book review >