Eager to begin his Pulitzer quest, Charles begins to assist Margo in her work and discovers the secret world of monsters and...

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THE MONSTER MALL

From the Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo series , Vol. 2

In the sequel to The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo (2017), aspiring journalist Charles Thompson works closely with Margo Maloo, who resolves problems between children and the monsters they encounter.

Eager to begin his Pulitzer quest, Charles begins to assist Margo in her work and discovers the secret world of monsters and is determined to show the world—through his blog—that they are not as dangerous as humans make them out to be. In episodic graphic chapters, Charles and Margo help Fyo, a baby imp, find his family and address the concerns of teenage vampires who live in an abandoned mall. While the child characters are representative of limited races—Charles is white, Margo is Indian-American, and Kevin is black—the often misunderstood monsters allow a lot more room for a lot more interpretation. Characters are deftly developed through dialogue bubbles and visually, the gremlinlike Fyo’s distress at discovering his former home knocked down taken just as seriously as Margo’s tender relationship with her elderly uncle, who appears to be slipping into dementia. The graphic narrative points out that different is not necessarily bad and that humans and monsters are afraid of one another primarily because of misinformation and miscommunication—a valuable lesson for human-human relations as well.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-492-1

Page Count: 130

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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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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