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

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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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.


Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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