Poor pacing, jerky plot, uneven content: skip.

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INTO THE SHADOWLANDS

From the Monster or Die series , Vol. 2

Following From the Grave (2016), Frank and the misfits face a plot against them and bully Malcolm struggles with his family secret.

Seventh-grade troll Malcolm McNastee is devastated that his father didn’t actually die a hero and instead was exiled to Exxillium, a place of shame for inferior “misfit” monsters. Malcolm’s father has been newly rescued by Frankenstein monster Frank (a misfit due to his not-so-scary blue skin and fastidious ways) and his sixth-grade friends. Chapters alternate between Frank and Malcolm, with Frank keeping secret his revolutionary activities and worrying about a missing friend, and Malcolm grappling with his father’s status as a hated outcast and also doing evil Principal Snaggle’s bidding. Snaggle has a plan to send the Odd Monsters Out class on a field trip to the Shadowlands during a dangerous storm in hopes that none of them will return. Several of the story’s elements—the principal’s plot to kill students, a storyline about aggressive conformity, a dream that Malcolm has about sending the misfits through a human shredder, and even some suicidal ideation—are at odds with cutesy monster-themed names and puns (Moanday, Tooshday, Shocktober, and, leaving the calendar behind, “horrorcane” and “slybrary,” for instance). The vast majority of the tale is buildup, with the titular trip over in a blink, to be quickly followed by setup for the next book.

Poor pacing, jerky plot, uneven content: skip. (Fantasy/horror. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63163-134-4

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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