Readers will be rooting for this tenacious kid as he keeps a steady head and stays just a step or two ahead of creepy beings...

CURSE OF THE BOGGIN

From the Library series , Vol. 1

Marcus O’Mara’s world is turned upside down when he begins to see frightening apparitions while at school serving detention.

The ghostly sightings increase as the white 13-year-old discovers that he is being hunted by a mysterious old woman. She confronts him, demanding that he “surrender the key.” Unable to turn to his adopted parents, who he feels hate him, Marcus shares the haunting visitations with his two closest friends, Lu, an Asian girl with a roller-derby aesthetic, and Theo, a buttoned-up black boy. (Marcus reflects, “It would be a grand slam if we had a Hispanic friend. Or maybe a Tongan.") Following clues left by a ghost in a bathrobe, Marcus learns of his secret connection to an ancient curse, one that leads him to a doorway to which he is the only keyholder. This doorway leads to a library of unfinished stories of the dead. Marcus must find the answers to keep his loved ones from harm, and that means opening the door to the shadowed past of his birth parents. MacHale deftly pulls readers into this page-turning adventure, well-choreographed chapter transitions defying them to put it down. The likable, feisty Marcus narrates, following a prologue that sets up the rest of the book.

Readers will be rooting for this tenacious kid as he keeps a steady head and stays just a step or two ahead of creepy beings conjured from a supernatural world. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93253-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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It’s fine, but it doesn’t live up to its potential as a STEM-plus-caper adventure.

CITY SPIES

From the City Spies series , Vol. 1

This thriller reads like Miss Congeniality meets Kingsman, starring Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and Anishinaabe-kwe water protector Autumn Peltier…kind of.

Puerto Rican–born, Brooklyn-raised Sara isn’t expecting much from her court-appointed lawyer—she has no reason to put faith in the system that put her in jail after she hacked into the city’s computers to expose her foster parents as abusive frauds. But with juvie her only other prospect, Sara takes a leap and agrees to a wild proposition: She’ll join Britain’s MI6 as a kid operative. When she arrives at the covert facility in Scotland, she meets the other kids the MI6 agent, a white Englishman affectionately called Mother, has taken in—all of them, like Sara, have highly developed skills in logic, puzzles, sneakiness, and other useful spy tactics. Mother has a mission for them; he’s taking them to Paris to a competition for youth environmental innovation, where their job is to perform just well enough to make it into the top 10 so they can protect the eccentric billionaire sponsor of the contest from an imminent threat. It’s a fun romp with timely but superficial things to say about environmental activism, though the recruitment process and messy organization stretches the imagination even with a hardy suspension of disbelief. For a spy story, it’s surprisingly interior focused rather than action packed. The cast is technically diverse in ethnic background, but this has next to no influence on the characters.

It’s fine, but it doesn’t live up to its potential as a STEM-plus-caper adventure. (Thriller. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1491-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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