Brisk, nonstop, chock-full of awesome exploits.

SMASH

FEARLESS

From the Smash series , Vol. 2

A fifth-grade superhero gets caught up in a three-way struggle with a supervillain and a mad scientist in his second round of adventures (Smash: Trial by Fire, 2013).

Sneaking out of the house at every chance to train with his mentor, Wraith, compounded with his lack of interest in doing schoolwork, threatens to leave him in imminent danger of being held back. As if that’s not problem enough, Andrew—“Smash” when he’s in costume—is further distracted when a wildly destructive running battle breaks out between the gray-skinned minions of his terrifying nemesis, the Magus, and the mechanical creations of dying inventor Dr. Cobb. It seems that both are after a world-altering prototype power source called the “skeleton key” in order to energize devices that will, respectively, either steal all of Smash’s superpowers or transfer Dr. Cobb’s mind to a healthy new body. The ensuing action is fast, furious, and interrupted only occasionally by scenes at home and the introduction of Jae Kim, a smart and lively new Korean-American classmate who both discovers Andrew’s secret identity and cozens him into better study habits. Some of the crashes, explosions, and humongously thewed bad guys feel crowded into the neatly squared-off panels, but the storylines, open-ended though they remain at the finish, are easy enough to follow. Andrew, darker-skinned than his single mom and big brother, Tommy, continues to lead a diverse and expressively drawn cast.

Brisk, nonstop, chock-full of awesome exploits. (Graphic superhero fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8118-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean.

MUSTACHES FOR MADDIE

A 12-year-old copes with a brain tumor.

Maddie likes potatoes and fake mustaches. Kids at school are nice (except one whom readers will see instantly is a bully); soon they’ll get to perform Shakespeare scenes in a unit they’ve all been looking forward to. But recent dysfunctions in Maddie’s arm and leg mean, stunningly, that she has a brain tumor. She has two surgeries, the first successful, the second taking place after the book’s end, leaving readers hanging. The tumor’s not malignant, but it—or the surgeries—could cause sight loss, personality change, or death. The descriptions of surgery aren’t for the faint of heart. The authors—parents of a real-life Maddie who really had a brain tumor—imbue fictional Maddie’s first-person narration with quirky turns of phrase (“For the love of potatoes!”) and whimsy (she imagines her medical battles as epic fantasy fights and pretends MRI stands for Mustard Rat from Indiana or Mustaches Rock Importantly), but they also portray her as a model sick kid. She’s frightened but never acts out, snaps, or resists. Her most frequent commentary about the tumor, having her skull opened, and the possibility of death is “Boo” or “Super boo.” She even shoulders the bully’s redemption. Maddie and most characters are white; one cringe-inducing hallucinatory surgery dream involves “chanting island natives” and a “witch doctor lady.”

Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean. (authors’ note, discussion questions) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62972-330-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

more