A colorful, tenderly told story for youngsters with vivid imaginations.




An imaginative boy discovers a door to a fantastical realm in this middle-grade adventure.

Eleven-year-old Hunter Wilson is obsessed with finding monsters. He looks for them under his bed and anywhere else he can conceive of them hiding. One day, he attends a field trip to a nearby pond with his classmates, including his best friend Gert Clemmons. They’re planning to collect jars of pond water to later examine under microscopes. A forest is close by, however, and Hunter can’t resist exploring it. He stumbles upon a large tree with a cavity filled with glowing mushrooms, which he enters; he then encounters tiny people who seem frightened of him and pelt him with acorns. When he emerges from the tree at last, he finds himself in a completely different forest. Among the strange trees there, he finds a talking raven who tells him the tale of the King of Monsters. Hunter then meets a gigantic dog whom he names Murphy; together, they find a machine that resembles a “black, gleaming moon” above the forest canopy that’s destroying trees. Elsewhere, the Puzzle Piece Man is well aware of Hunter’s progress and certain the boy will go even further. Genzano’s fantasy is a surreal, unpredictable narrative in the tradition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that precocious readers will enjoy. This volume lays potential groundwork for future installments with details such as Hunter’s favorite book, The Yellow Castle, Volume One: Shadow Tower, as well as snippets of characters in other realms noticing Hunter leave his own woods. The prose evokes a sense of discovery and magic, as in a description of a tree covered in “soft, furry, chestnut-colored growths” that “wagged sometimes in rippling sequence.” The story unfolds in sometimes-lengthy paragraphs that may challenge some middle-grade audiences.

A colorful, tenderly told story for youngsters with vivid imaginations.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2020

ISBN: 979-8-56-121399-1

Page Count: 89

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun


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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