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THEODORA HENDRIX AND THE MONSTROUS LEAGUE OF MONSTERS

From the Theodora Hendrix series , Vol. 1

A found-family tale that falls flat due to tired stereotypes.

A plucky young hero unravels a monster-filled mystery.

As an infant, Theodora was found swaddled in a graveyard in England by a kindly zombie and his vampire-cat companion. She was adopted by a good-natured group of monsters, who broke a strict tenet of their sacred charter by bringing a human into the mix. Now, 10 years later, Theodora attends Appleton Primary School. On the first day of Year Five, she meets and befriends Dexter Adebola, a new Nigerian American student. When odd occurrences begin to compound—sinister notes, trails of slimy earwax, and ominous corvids—Theodora knows she must uncover the nefarious source before her place within her beloved monster family is jeopardized. Kopy’s breezy offering is more fun than frightening, with conversational chapters that mostly culminate in page-turning cliffhangers but ultimately lead to a lackluster and hastily rendered conclusion. This work, which was originally published in the U.K. in 2020, contains some questionable representation. Brave and precocious Theodora is white; conversely, bespectacled, stuttering Dexter, who’s Black, serves as little more than an anxious sidekick. The depictions of women are also unfortunate: As the fight between good and evil culminates, the good monster is shown as thin, feminine, and conventionally attractive, whereas the bad one is fat and disabled and has hairy legs.

A found-family tale that falls flat due to tired stereotypes. (Paranormal mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781665906838

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

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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 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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FINALLY, SOMETHING MYSTERIOUS

From the One and Onlys series , Vol. 1

Delightful fun for budding mystery fans.

Only children, rejoice! A cozy mystery just for you! (People with siblings will probably enjoy it too.)

Debut novelist Cornett introduces the One and Onlys, a trio of mystery-solving only kids: Gloria Longshanks “Shanks” Hill, Alexander “Peephole” Calloway, and narrator Paul (alas, no nickname) Marconi. The trio has a knack for finding and solving low-level mysteries, but they come up against a true head-scratcher when the yard of a resident of their small town is covered in rubber ducks overnight. Working ahead of Officer Portnoy, who’s a little on the slow side, can Paul, Shanks, and Peephole solve the mystery? Cornett has a lot of fun with this adventure, dropping additional side mysteries, a subplot about small businesses, big corporations, and economics, and a town’s love of bratwurst into the mix. Most importantly, he plays fair with the clues throughout, allowing astute readers to potentially solve the case ahead of the trio. The tone and mystery are perfect for younger readers who want to test their detective skills but are put off by anything scary or gory. The pacing would serve well for chapter-by-chapter read-alouds. If there are any quibbles, it’s the lack of diversity of the cast, as it defaults white. Diversity exists in small towns, and this one is crying out for more. Hopefully a sequel will introduce additional faces.

Delightful fun for budding mystery fans. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-3003-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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