A satisfying video game sequel for fans of this action-hero series.

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Combat Boy and the Lord of Monster Realm

Purbaugh (Combat Boy and the Monster Token, 2014) returns to the saga of Tom Hock and his adventures with the Monster Realm in this middle-grade novel.

Mere hours after becoming the Multidimensional Game Master and saving his soul (and his brother’s) from getting trapped in the Monster Realm, Tom, aka Combat Boy, just wants to relax. Unfortunately, his brother Joey is still addicted to the nectar of flowers from the Monster Realm, and it’s making him do crazy things. After paralyzing Tom with a poison dart from a fortuneteller spider, Joey assembles the Monster Tokens and restarts the Monster Realm game. The game spills over into their native San Diego, causing the streets of the city to fill with terrifying flying demons and vanilla-scented knockout fog. Once Tom regains muscle control, he quickly suits up as Combat Boy and heads out after his corrupt brother. He must gather the same players that he recently competed against in hopes that, by working together, they can beat the game and stop the Lord of the Monster Realm. Combat Boy has already defeated the game once, but this time the level is San Diego, and the boss is Tom’s own brother, and if he loses, all the places and people he knows will be sucked into the Monster Realm forever. The only question, as phrased by the game’s coordinating troll, is: “Combat Boy. Are you ready to get your game on?” Punchy and propulsive, Purbaugh’s prose sucks the reader through the plot of this sequel, which, as in the case of the first Combat Boy story, is structured to resemble a video game. Little time is given for setup or exposition, and when it’s offered, it’s usually while characters are already running straight into the action. As with most video-game sequels, this volume is a variation of the old formula as opposed to something completely new, but fans of the first book should be pleased by the continuity of story, characters, style, and tone. Breakneck pacing means the end comes quickly for Tom and company, but a cliffhanger indicates another volume in the series is in the works.

A satisfying video game sequel for fans of this action-hero series.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5302-1210-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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