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THIS APPEARING HOUSE

Offers a hauntingly truthful view of secrets and strength.

A tale of survival, friendship, and the strength that comes from overcoming fears.

Middle schooler Jac is dealing with the fallout of a real-life nightmare: childhood cancer. But it’s not just the fear of recurrence that she has to handle, but the reality of surviving and carrying the burden of her mom’s constant worry. When Jac discovers a large house that wasn’t there before looming at the end of a street in her suburban New Jersey neighborhood, she worries it’s a hallucination, which could mean a recurrence of her illness. But after her best friend, a boy named Hazel, sees the house too, her sense of adventure takes over. Provoked by a couple of bullies who dare them to enter and then follow them inside, Jac and Hazel explore the house and are met with surprises—like a key with Jac’s likeness on it—that suggest her connection to this strange and terrifying place is personal. Before long, the kids realize they are trapped inside. Shocks follow with every new door they open as they search for an exit and discover ever increasing frights. Delightfully nightmarish visions chase Jac, offering the feel of a thrilling game with twisted and terrifying imagery, as she navigates the house, seeking to understand her connection to this unusual place in this emotionally resonant story. Characters seem to default to White.

Offers a hauntingly truthful view of secrets and strength. (Paranormal. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-313657-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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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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NARWHAL I'M AROUND

From the Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter series , Vol. 2

Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark.

An animal ghost seeks closure after enduring aquatic atrocities.

In this sequel to The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter (2020), sixth grader Rex is determined to once again use his ability to communicate with dead animals for the greater good. A ghost narwhal’s visit gives Rex his next opportunity in the form of the clue “bad water.” Rex enlists Darvish—his Pakistani American human best friend—and Drumstick—his “faithful (dead) chicken”—to help crack the case. But the mystery is only one of Rex’s many roadblocks. For starters, Sami Mulpepper hugged him at a dance, and now she’s his “accidental girlfriend.” Even worse, Darvish develops one of what Rex calls “Game Preoccupation Disorders” over role-playing game Monsters & Mayhem that may well threaten the pair’s friendship. Will Rex become “a Sherlock without a Watson,” or can the two make amends in time to solve the mystery? This second outing effectively carries the “ghost-mist” torch from its predecessor without feeling too much like a formulaic carbon copy. Spouting terms like plausible deniability and in flagrante delicto, Rex makes for a hilariously bombastic (if unlikable) first-person narrator. The over-the-top style is contagious, and black-and-white illustrations throughout add cartoony punchlines to various scenes. Unfortunately, scenes in which humor comes at the expense of those with less status are downright cringeworthy, as when Rex, who reads as White, riffs on the impossibility of his ever pronouncing Darvish’s surname or he plays dumb by staring into space and drooling.

Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark. (Paranormal mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5523-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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