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THE TRICKSTER'S TALE

From the Unbelievable FIB series

Shaughnessy’s imaginings show promise, and his puzzles and plot twists will absorb and intrigue younger readers as they...

This debut title in a planned middle-grade series introduces readers to a feisty young sleuth, fantastical realms, and warring Viking gods.

When Prudence Potts, 11, receives a mysterious letter with the puzzling question, “What is the unbelievable FIB?” her world—already disrupted by her father’s recent death—is turned upside down. Prudence bristles with attitude: clashing with her tiresome teacher and holding her sympathetic mother at arm’s length, she finds an unlikely ally in ABE, a new kid with a helpful knack for decoding clues. Tapped by the mysterious Mr. Fox to assist the Fantasy Investigation Bureau, the two must learn more about why mythical Norse beings are slipping into town, bent on stealing the powerful Eye of Odin, while discerning whether Mr. Fox—or anyone—can be trusted. Pru’s revelation about her anger (whose underpinnings unveil the illusion that adults can keep themselves—or anyone—safe) seems a touch contrived; however, this story offers pleasing elements, including an authentic boy-girl friendship, fresh musings on the place of magic in childhood, and original, vividly depicted scenes (check out Mr. Fox’s henhouse, a tiny shack with nearly infinite possibilities inside).

Shaughnessy’s imaginings show promise, and his puzzles and plot twists will absorb and intrigue younger readers as they consider the book’s central questions about truth, magic, and adventure. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61620-498-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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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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