A light wash of horror over thought-provoking observations about “dumb” kids and the roots of bullying, with an admixture of...

THE BULLY BUG

From the Monsterrific Tales series , Vol. 6

The Monsterrific series goes Kafka in its final turn.

Bitten by mutant bugs that swarm out of a moldering cereal box, school bully Ludlow finds himself changing into an oversized insect—smelling with his arms, munching on raw leaves, drooling uncontrollably at the suddenly delicious odors coming from Dumpsters and garbage bins. There are scary physical changes, too. Unfortunately, the most logical allies Lud can enlist to understand and cope with his transformation are nerdy habitual victims Norman and Sebastian. Getting past years of bad experiences isn’t going to be easy for either side. Moreover, like the protagonists in preceding volumes, Lud also ultimately has to choose whether to stay a monster or not. Lubar paints a sympathetic portrait of Lud as a victim himself: of nature, nurture and the low expectations of others. But despite troubles in school, he displays throughout a hidden gift for jokes and wordplay that leads in the end to a well-earned talent-show triumph.

A light wash of horror over thought-provoking observations about “dumb” kids and the roots of bullying, with an admixture of comically gross bits. Illustrations not seen. (Horror. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3082-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Funny, scary in the right moments, and offering plenty of historical facts.

HOUDINI AND ME

Catfished…by a ghost!

Harry Mancini, an 11-year-old White boy, was born and lives in Harry Houdini’s house in New York City. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s obsessed with Houdini and his escapology. Harry and his best friend, Zeke, are goofing around in some particularly stupid ways (“Because we’re idiots,” Zeke explains later) when Harry hits his head. In the aftermath of a weeklong coma, Harry finds a mysterious gift: an ancient flip phone that has no normal phone service but receives all-caps text messages from someone who identifies himself as “HOUDINI.” Harry is wary of this unseen stranger, like any intelligently skeptical 21st-century kid, but he’s eventually convinced: His phone friend is the real deal. So when Houdini asks Harry to try one of his greatest tricks, Harry agrees. Harry—so full of facts about Houdini that he litters his storytelling with infodumps, making him an enthusiastic tour guide to Houdini’s life—is easily tricked by his supportive-seeming hero. Harry, Zeke, and Houdini are all just the right amount of snarky, and while Harry’s terrifying adventure has an occasionally inconsistent voice, the humor and tension make this an appealing page-turner. Archival photographs of Harry Houdini make the ghostly visitation feel closer. Zeke is Black, and Harry Houdini, as he was in life, is a White Jewish immigrant.

Funny, scary in the right moments, and offering plenty of historical facts. (historical note, bibliography) (Supernatural adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4515-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Begins with a premise that doesn’t bear examination and goes badly off the rails toward the end: skip.

THE CREAKERS

Where have all the grown-ups gone, and why? Lucy finds the answers under her bed.

Suddenly left to their own devices, the children of Whiffington Town quickly devolve into a bewildered mob—except for 11-year-old Lucy Dungston. Unwillingly finding herself cast in the role of “the girl who knows what to do,” she determines to find out “what the jiggins is going on.” As it turns out, the garbage-loving, under-the-bed Creakers have bundled the adults off to the mysterious realm of Woleb to stop them from sending their lovely rubbish away to distant landfills. True to the spirit of his Dinosaur That Pooped a Planet (2017) and its sequels, Fletcher goes for the grotty, sending his doughty protagonist through slimy tunnels bearing an uncomfortable resemblance to alimentary tubes, past shops offering such delicacies as earwax ice cream, to a tavern where favored patrons get “extra snot drops” in their slops. From there the tale takes a distasteful white-savior turn: Lucy realizes that despite their nonstandard English and slovenly habits, Creakers have needs and children too, so she arranges to give them the moldering contents of the town dump. Devries’ playful illustrations feature wide-eyed humans (all white except for one 6-year-old brown-skinned diva with “bouncy hair” and her father) in expressive poses and stubby, comically ugly monsters.

Begins with a premise that doesn’t bear examination and goes badly off the rails toward the end: skip. (map) (Farce. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7334-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more