THE GREAT GHOST HOAX

From the Great Pet Heist series , Vol. 2

Silly business galore, with more than a few sly tentacular twists.

The Strathmore Building’s pets and other residents, human or otherwise, are literally suckered into investigating rumors of a poltergeist in vacant 5B.

Sodden towels and other signs of intrusion in 5B may reduce the landlady to hysterics, but the multispecies team members assembled in Ecton’s The Great Pet Heist (2020) are made of sterner stuff (mostly) and are ready for new exploits. The discovery that the culprit is not in fact a ghost but a celebrity on the lam—to wit, the local zoo’s camouflage artist and popular performer, Jerome (“Mr. Wiggles” to use his stage name)—leads to a series of challenges ranging from persuading the arrogant octopod to slither back to his adoring public to foiling a slimy pair of scam artist ghostbusters. Though the animal cast is unusually diverse (Jerome isn’t even the only octopus hanging out in the Strathmore’s plumbing, as readers of the opener will know), the human one, a Black police officer aside, presents White. Still, in Mottram’s lamentably infrequent illustrations everyone glows with character, and closing views of one octopus offering a thumbs up and another in the midst of a gleeful cannonball end the romp on high notes.

Silly business galore, with more than a few sly tentacular twists. (Paranormal. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7991-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

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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 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

THE WORLD-FAMOUS NINE

A whodunit that doesn’t live up to its intriguing premise.

Coded clues put two young sleuths on the trail of a magic mandala hidden somewhere in a huge, bustling department store.

Hardly has meek young Zander Olinga arrived for a visit with Zina Winebee, his grandmother and owner-manager of the Number Nine Plaza, than he learns of a threat to the continued existence of the renowned emporium. The danger is linked to Darkbloom, a rumored evil spirit set on reversing the good-fortune charm left by Nepali monks at the store’s founding. The stone tablet bearing the magical mandala vanished 90 years ago, and finding its hiding place becomes a race pitting Zander and intrepid new ally Natasha Novikov against unknown saboteurs whose minds have been taken over by Darkbloom. The keys to the tablet’s location are a series of ingenious word and number clues left by Zander’s great-granduncle Vladimir, and Guterson provides enough hints along the way for savvy readers to decode them. What he doesn’t do is give either his leads or the many-faceted store (which, over the course of the story, is explored from the Ferris wheel on its roof to the bakery in the cellar) any more depth or distinctive traits than he gives Nepali religious practice. Darkbloom remains a shadowy bugaboo, its actual nature and motivations unexplained and its fate left anticlimactically unresolved. Zander’s father is from Cameroon, and his mother reads white; names cue some diversity in the supporting cast. Final art not seen. (This review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

A whodunit that doesn’t live up to its intriguing premise. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2024

ISBN: 9780316484442

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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