PURE DEAD WICKED

Plainly channeling Roald Dahl and Charles Addams through her own uniquely wacky sense of humor, Gliori dishes up as a successor to Pure Dead Magic (2001) an equally barbed, sidesplitting farce. After being nearly pulped by pieces of slate falling from the roof of their ancient Scottish manor, the Strega-Borgia clan—including its nonhuman retainers, some of whom are mythological—finds itself ruinously expensive temporary lodgings in the nearby town of Auchenlochtermuchty, while slimy building contractor Vincent Bella-Vista, under the guise of effecting repairs, removes the roof entirely to further a nefarious scheme. Meanwhile, young Titus Strega-Borgia’s plan to clone himself and his lippy sister Pandora with a process gleaned from the Internet goes badly astray, leaving him with not two hyperactive homunculi but 500, none of them toilet-trained. Relentlessly refusing readers a chance to draw breath, the author piles complication atop catastrophe (nearly each of which involves vast amounts of physical destruction), and while bringing everything ’round right in the end dispatches Bella-Vista, along with three equally squalid associates, in spectacular fashion. The body count may be high—especially considering that four out of five of the rapidly aging little clones die before the conscience-stricken Strega-Borgia sibs can get the survivors into cryogenic storage next to six-times-great grandmother Strega-Nonna—but that’s just one wild exaggeration among many in this pedal-to-the-metal page turner. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-81411-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY

From the Joey Pigza series , Vol. 1

If Rotten Ralph were a boy instead of a cat, he might be Joey, the hyperactive hero of Gantos's new book, except that Joey is never bad on purpose. In the first-person narration, it quickly becomes clear that he can't help himself; he's so wound up that he not only practically bounces off walls, he literally swallows his house key (which he wears on a string around his neck and which he pull back up, complete with souvenirs of the food he just ate). Gantos's straightforward view of what it's like to be Joey is so honest it hurts. Joey has been abandoned by his alcoholic father and, for a time, by his mother (who also drinks); his grandmother, just as hyperactive as he is, abuses Joey while he's in her care. One mishap after another leads Joey first from his regular classroom to special education classes and then to a special education school. With medication, counseling, and positive reinforcement, Joey calms down. Despite a lighthearted title and jacket painting, the story is simultaneously comic and horrific; Gantos takes readers right inside a human whirlwind where the ride is bumpy and often frightening, especially for Joey. But a river of compassion for the characters runs through the pages, not only for Joey but for his overextended mom and his usually patient, always worried (if only for their safety) teachers. Mature readers will find this harsh tale softened by unusual empathy and leavened by genuinely funny events. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-374-33664-4

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A patchy tale flickering repeatedly from light to dark and back.

TWAIN'S TREASURE

From the Phantom Files series

Alex’s ability to talk with ghosts puts him in famous company when he and his mom move to Hannibal, Missouri.

Alex, 13, is driven by bitter determination to keep his lifelong ability secret, since it’s already led to a diagnosis of schizophrenia that drove his parents apart and cost his mother a decent job, but it’s not easy. For one thing, his new friend, Bones, is a positively obsessed amateur ghost hunter, and for another, ghosts just won’t leave him alone no matter how rudely he treats them. Notable among the latter is Mark Twain himself, as acerbic and wily as he was in life, who is on the verge of involuntarily degenerating into a raging poltergeist unless Alex can find the unspecified, titular treasure. Alex’s search takes him through Clemens’ writings and tragic private life as well as many of the town’s related attractions on the way to a fiery climax in the public library. Meanwhile, Alex has an apotheosis of his own, deciding that lying to conceal his ability and his unhappy past isn’t worth the sacrifice of a valued friendship. Conveniently for the plot’s needs, Clemens and other ghosts can interact with the physical world at will. Wolfe parlays Alex’s ingrained inability to ignore ectoplasmic accosters into some amusing cross-conversations that help lighten his protagonist’s hard inner tests. The cast, living and otherwise, presents as white.

A patchy tale flickering repeatedly from light to dark and back. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-940924-29-8

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Dreaming Robot

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more