A good choice for middle-grade readers looking for something smart and scary.

READ REVIEW

TALES FROM BEYOND THE BRAIN

Thirteen short stories to creep out kids.

Fans of Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark looking for a modern spin will find exactly what they want in this offering. Typical trials and tribulations in children’s lives are twisted toward the uncanny, as when a popcorn kernel lodged between Jamie’s teeth turns into a mouthful of twisted fangs with minds of their own. Or when a paper airplane accidentally cuts a hole in reality. Hughes’moody black-and-white illustrations highlight disturbing moments in each story, drawing easy parallels to Stephen Gammell’s nightmare-inducing artwork that accompanies Alvin Schwartz’s classic. Each story is between 10 and 20 pages, making the volume easy to put down at bedtime or pick up in the light of day, though this brevity means that characterization and emotional depth are sacrificed in exchange for action and chills. None of the characters are explicitly racialized, implying the white default, and all of the scenarios feel firmly and nondescriptly middle-class. Readers will get an additional thrill when they realize that many of these stories don’t have endings, and they may find themselves looking askance at the next stray cat or grumpy bus driver.

A good choice for middle-grade readers looking for something smart and scary. (Horror. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2079-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE ZOMBIE PARADE

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 2

Thirteen-year-old Jack Sullivan and his crew of monster-fighting besties are fresh off their victorious battle against the evil Blarg, but there’s no rest for the weary in the middle of a Monster Apocalypse.

First, Joe’s Pizza has become the local monster hangout. And second, the zombies seem to be disappearing. Thankfully, the white boy, his not-so-secret Latina love, June Del Toro, his African-American, science-nerd best friend, Quint, and pre-apocalypse bully–turned-ally Dirk, a large white boy who loves to garden, befriend a man-monster who might have the answers to everything. Equal parts humor, adventure, and warmth, the book offers fans of the series and new readers alike an entirely agreeable outing. Jack’s witty narration and Holgate’s pitch-perfect illustrations make for a terrific read that’s particularly well suited for middle-grade boys who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. There are plenty of foul-smelling, brain-sucking monsters and gizmos and gadgets to delight, but at its core, this is a story about friendship. Orphaned at birth and raised by a foster family he describes as jerks, Jack has always longed for a family of his own. Now that he has one, the only thing scarier than the monsters is the thought of losing them.

An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart. (Horror. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-670-01662-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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