A thrilling tale of magic that is just scary enough.

NIGHTBOOKS

Imprisoned by a real-life witch, horror addict Alex’s only hope for survival lies in his ability to spin his own nightly tales of terror.

Alex Mosher knows that there is something wrong with him. Normal kids don’t obsess over creepy things, and they certainly don’t keep “nightbooks” full of their own scary stories. In an attempt to lose the label “weirdo,” Alex sneaks out of his own apartment in the middle of the night, down the elevator to the basement boiler in order to destroy his work. But when the elevator stops on the fourth floor, Alex is beckoned into a bespelled apartment and trapped by the witch Natacha. Aided by fellow prisoner Yasmin, Alex is given the task of storyteller, reading nightly from his nightbooks for the witch’s pleasure. He spends his days exploring the apartment and planning an escape even as he begrudgingly finds that he enjoys having an appreciative audience. When Alex discovers that his stories serve to appease an ancient evil that even Natacha fears, escape becomes even more urgent. White (the Thickety series) presents an engrossing and creepy tale that blends elements of “Hansel and Gretel” and The 1,001 Arabian Nights, explores the storytelling craft, and addresses perceptions of normalcy. Interwoven tales will thrill middle-grade horror fans. Alex is white, and clues indicate that Yasmin is Arab-American, while Natacha is depicted as having dark skin and spiky hair.

A thrilling tale of magic that is just scary enough. (Horror. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-256008-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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SWINDLE

From the Swindle series , Vol. 1

Eleven-year-old Griffin Bing is “the man with the plan.” If something needs doing, Griffin carefully plans a fix and his best friend Ben usually gets roped in as assistant. When the town council ignores his plan for a skate park on the grounds of the soon-to-be demolished Rockford House, Griffin plans a camp-out in the house. While there, he discovers a rare Babe Ruth baseball card. His family’s money worries are suddenly a thing of the past, until unscrupulous collectables dealer S. Wendell Palomino swindles him. Griffin and Ben plan to snatch the card back with a little help. Pet-lover Savannah whispers the blood-thirsty Doberman. Rock-climber “Pitch” takes care of scaling the house. Budding-actor Logan distracts the nosy neighbor. Computer-expert Melissa hacks Palomino’s e-mail and the house alarm. Little goes according to plan, but everything turns out all right in this improbable but fun romp by the prolific and always entertaining Korman. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-439-90344-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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