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THE UNSINKABLE WALKER BEAN AND THE KNIGHTS OF THE WAXING MOON

From the Unsinkable Walker Bean series , Vol. 2

Dazzling.

Shipwrecks and secrets abound in this sophomore graphic offering.

Picking up where predecessor The Unsinkable Walker Bean (2010) left off after a fantastic battle at sea, bespectacled Walker Bean and his friends are marooned on a mysterious and seemingly deserted island but soon surmise they might not be alone. Before long, Walker and his friends—music-loving Shiv and headstrong Genoa—learn that the island has a dark history surrounding an avaricious aristocrat. As they encounter shadowy spirit animals and treacherous foes, it becomes apparent that Genoa is integral to the mystery. Will they be able to solve the riddle of the island and set right the wrongs of the past? Renier’s plotting is complex; his worldbuilding is intricate and immersive, requiring careful reading. Stunning illustrations should easily compel young eyes to linger over the many tidy and small panels juxtaposed against alluring larger spreads. While Walker is intrinsic to the action, gal pal Genoa shares equal importance even though her name’s not on the marquee. Enough backstory is provided for this to serve as a fine jumping-in point for readers unfamiliar with Book 1—but expect them to demand it after. Walker and Genoa present white; many secondary actors, including Shiv, seem to be characters of color.

Dazzling. (Graphic adventure. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59643-505-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

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It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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