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From the Goblins in the Castle series , Vol. 2

A goblin salute (i.e., a finger up the nose) for this brisk and funny outing.

In an inexcusably tardy sequel to Goblins in the Castle (1992), stakes escalate when old spells and new mischief collide, sending a giant stone toad bounding off with the previous episode’s protagonist in its mouth.

When a bit of incautious foolery with a book of spells leads to her friend William being carried away by the suddenly reanimated monument that gives Toad-in-a-Cage Castle its name, Fauna intrepidly hares off in pursuit. The chase takes her past diverting encounters with a particularly mercurial giant, an urbane troll, and others to the underground goblin city of Nilbog. She has the dubious help of a notably motley set of fellow rescuers, including an obnoxious ghost, the hunchbacked Igor (who clutches a weaponized teddy bear), and a brawny woman warrior with a speech impediment who introduces herself as “Bwoonhiwda.” Coville expertly stirs together moments of terror with goblin farts (“Oh, stop fussing. The smell ain’t gonna hurt you. At least, not much. You might lose a little skin, but it’ll grow back”) and like comical touches. He propels his tale to a climactic battle with a malign mage who threatens Nilbog’s very existence and then ties up all the plotlines both new and old with a neat round of counterspells, revelations, and just deserts.

A goblin salute (i.e., a finger up the nose) for this brisk and funny outing. (afterword) (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4169-1440-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme.

An age-old rivalry is reluctantly put aside when two young vacationers are lost in the wilderness.

Anthropomorphic—in body if definitely not behavior—Dogg Scout Oscar and pampered Molly Hissleton stray from their separate camps, meet by chance in a trackless magic forest, and almost immediately recognize that their only chance of survival, distasteful as the notion may be, lies in calling a truce. Patterson and Grabenstein really work the notion here that cooperation is better than prejudice founded on ignorance and habit, interspersing explicit exchanges on the topic while casting the squabbling pair with complementary abilities that come out as they face challenges ranging from finding food to escaping such predators as a mountain lion and a pack of vicious “weaselboars.” By the time they cross a wide river (on a raft steered by “Old Jim,” an otter whose homespun utterances are generally cribbed from Mark Twain—an uneasy reference) back to civilization, the two are BFFs. But can that friendship survive the return, with all the social and familial pressures to resume the old enmity? A climactic cage-match–style confrontation before a worked-up multispecies audience provides the answer. In the illustrations (not seen in finished form) López plops wide-eyed animal heads atop clothed, more or less human forms and adds dialogue balloons for punchlines.

A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-41156-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Epic—in plot, not length—and as wise and wonderful as Gerald Morris’ Arthurian exploits.

Who needs dragons when there are Terrible Lizards to be fought?

Having recklessly boasted to King Arthur and the court that he’d slain 40 dragons, Sir Erec can hardly refuse when Merlin offers him more challenging foes…and so it is that in no time (so to speak), Erec, with bookish Sir Hector, the silent and enigmatic Black Knight, and blustering Sir Bors with his thin but doughty squire, Mel, in tow, are hewing away at fearsome creatures sporting natural armor and weapons every bit as effective as knightly ones. Happily, while all the glorious mashing and bashing leads to awesome feats aplenty—who would suspect that a ravening T. Rex could be decked by a well-placed punch to the jaw?—when the dust settles neither bloodshed nor permanent injury has been dealt to either side. Better yet, not even the stunning revelation that two of the Three Stooges–style bumblers aren’t what they seem (“Anyone else here a girl?”) keeps the questers from developing into a well-knit team capable of repeatedly saving one another’s bacon. Phelan endows the all-white human cast with finely drawn, eloquently expressive faces but otherwise works in a loose, movement-filled style, pitting his clanking crew against an almost nonstop onslaught of toothy monsters in a monochrome mix of single scenes and occasional wordless sequential panels.

Epic—in plot, not length—and as wise and wonderful as Gerald Morris’ Arthurian exploits. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-268623-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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