An exciting series opener that should whet readers’ appetites for more.


From the 13th Street series , Vol. 1

Three cousins find themselves fighting a horde of bats.

Cousins Malia, Ivan, and Dante are spending the summer at Aunt Lucy’s house, located in fictional Gulf City’s Little Mexico neighborhood. The day is full of promise, as the children plan to visit the neighborhood’s water park. As they walk to the attraction, an old woman they meet on the way suggests they take a shortcut through an alley behind a bakery, but the street they emerge on—13th Street—is empty. Feeling lost, Malia uses her phone’s map app and realizes they’re no longer en route to the pool. Instead, they’ve been transported to a strange place infested by huge bats with astonishingly bad breath. The cousins must use Dante’s video game experience, Ivan’s creativity, Malia’s leadership, and the help of some fantastical characters to survive the terrifying bats and return home to Aunt Lucy’s house. Bowles gently introduces a sprinkling of Spanish vocabulary throughout this chapter book. Encouraging messages greet readers after some chapters, along with occasional progress markers. In addition, a summary of the number of chapters, pages, and words read gives readers a sense of accomplishment at the conclusion, and the three protagonists speak directly to readers, encouraging them to take up another book. Three additional activities aim to further readers’ engagement with the story and develop critical reading skills.

An exciting series opener that should whet readers’ appetites for more. (Horror. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294780-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Aimed straight at proto-Goosebumps fans, this formulaic series opener pits two 9-year-olds against a great white shark with legs. Having lost his bike in a lake thanks to the latest hare-brained scheme of his impulsive cousin Henry, bookish Keats reluctantly agrees to finance a replacement by earning some money taking on odd jobs at a spooky local mansion. The prosaic task of weeding the garden quickly turns into an extended flight through a series of magical rooms after a shark monster rises out of the ground and gives chase. Dashing from one narrow squeak to the next, the lads encounter a kitchen with an invisible "sink," a giant vomiting bookworm in the library, a carpet pattern in the hall that (literally) bites and, most usefully, a magic wand that they get to keep (setting up future episodes) after spelling the monster away. Tilted points of view give the occasional illustrations more energy than the labored plot ever musters, and the characters rarely show even two dimensions. Fledgling readers will do better in the hands of Jim Benton’s Franny K. Stein series or Bruce and Katherine Coville’s Moongobble and Me books. (Horror. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86675-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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Simple text, short chapters, and plenty of illustrations will appeal to emerging readers who prefer just a little shiver...


From the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol series , Vol. 1

What happens if you move to a new town and your house is haunted? Andres is about to find out!

Andres Miedoso—his last name means “fearful” in Spanish—is “definitely not the coolest and bravest kid in the world.” In fact, Andres likes normal-boring and understands normal-boring, because he is normal-boring. But when the brown-skinned, curly haired Latino child and his family move to Kersville, he finds out his new home is anything but normal-boring. Fortunately, his next-door neighbor, a black boy named Desmond Cole who is the same age as Andres, is “the coolest, bravest kid in the world.” Desmond’s business as stated on his business card is “Ghost Patrol.” How lucky should a boy feel to live in a haunted house? Very—if you’re Desmond. Not so lucky if you’re Andres. But when the ghost eats a lasagna that makes him sick and tells them he’s been moving from house to house, Andres feels sorry and invites the ghost to stay as long as he promises “not to do any spooky stuff.” A deal is struck, a friendship is born, and a new series for chapter-book readers gets off to a good start.

Simple text, short chapters, and plenty of illustrations will appeal to emerging readers who prefer just a little shiver with their story—and to other readers too. (Suspense. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1039-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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