BITTERLY AND THE GIANT PROBLEM

From the Pinkaboos series , Vol. 1

A compelling story that just might teach young readers something about facing their fears of things that go “bump” in the...

“Pinkaboo” used to be an insult…until Bitterly and her best buds, Belladonna and Abyssma, reclaim and use it to silence the bullies.

Fright School is tough, and it only gets harder for the little vampire when she must deal daily with Vex, the green-faced (literally) bully who blocks the school gates. Bitterly feels even more exposed when her teacher, Miss Viper, a bespectacled, blue-haired serpent, chooses her to enter the dream of her little girl, Molly, to help her defeat a giant that plagues Molly’s dreams nightly. After being sucked into their huge classroom screen, Bitterly attempts to resolve Molly’s fear while her classmates watch from the comfort of their desks. Disappointed at Bitterly’s unconventional and decidedly un-monstrous strategy, Miss Viper expects more and shows her via the screen how she taught her own little girl to defeat dream witches. This enables Bitterly to imagine better strategies for helping Molly, but it also helps her manage her own antagonists. Drawing from a palette of primarily pink and green, Kelly immerses readers in this strange world of not-so-scary monsters, giving a distinctive appearance and personality to each creature. Both the protagonist and the antagonist are dynamic, keeping the story humming along. Companion title Belladonna and the Nightmare Academy publishes simultaneously.

A compelling story that just might teach young readers something about facing their fears of things that go “bump” in the night . (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4494-7831-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

THE MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

MEET THE BIGFEET

From the Yeti Files series , Vol. 1

Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse.

It’s a Bigfeet family reunion!

Everyone’s favorite frosty, furry cryptid, the yeti, actually has a name: Blizz Richards. From his supersecret HQ in Nepal he keeps in touch with his fellow cryptids, all of whom have sworn an oath to keep themselves hidden. That’s not always easy, especially when there are cryptozoologists, like the nasty (but bumbling) George Vanquist, who are always trying to expose the secretive creatures. Vanquist got a picture of Blizz’s cousin Brian near his home in British Columbia, causing the mortified Brian to disappear entirely. When Blizz receives an invitation to a Bigfeet family reunion in Canada, he calls his buddies Alexander (one of Santa’s elves), Gunthar (a goblin) and Frank the Arctic fox to help him get ready. When they arrive in Canada, Brian is still nowhere to be seen. Can Blizz and his skunk ape and other sasquatch cousins find Brian, have the reunion and evade Vanquist? If anyone can, the Bigfeet clan can. Illustrator Sherry’s first volume in the Yeti Files is a fast and funny graphic-prose tale full of labeled pictures and comic-style panels. Those just starting chapter books may have some trouble with a few big words, but they’ll enjoy the big friendly monsters and immediately ask for the next tale—which looks to be about the Loch Ness monster.

Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-55617-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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