Encore, please! (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)

THE STRATFORD ZOO MIDNIGHT REVUE PRESENTS MACBETH

Ever wonder what zoo animals do at night? Why, they perform Shakespeare, of course!

As the zookeeper locks the gate to the Stratford Zoo, the animals are just beginning to set up for their evening performance of Macbeth. The characters are all present and accounted for: a hungry, ketchup-loving lion Macbeth, who discovers an insatiable new taste for power; a trusting and bumbling owl Duncan; a leopard Lady Macbeth, who realizes in a fury that she has indelible spots; and a stork—who was delivered by another of his own kind, not born to a mother—as MacDuff. This innovative and intelligent reimagining hits all the notes of the Bard’s famous play yet manages to put enough of a spin on it to keep it fresh and novel. (Though it makes a few age-appropriate changes, like changing a key word in Lady Macbeth’s famous monologue to “dumb.”) Those too young to appreciate the original play will certainly grasp this cleverly anthropomorphized, lushly envisioned graphic romp, not realizing how effectively they are being set up for the original later on. As the menagerie’s nighttime performance ends and another day begins, the rest of the animals await the next play: Romeo and Juliet; let’s hope that readers will be privy to that performance as well.

Encore, please! (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-915-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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