CAMP MURDERFACE

Two kids team up to unravel a sinister, supernatural summer-camp mystery in 1983.

Corryn’s at Camp Sweetwater while her parents work on the divorce they think she doesn’t know about. She bonds with Tez when they see eerie faces in the bonfire after a strange stick is added to it during their first night there. In their alternating first-person, present-tense narration, scares come fast and furious, with only the duo seeing (or, at least, acknowledging) that something’s wrong. As the scares grow into physical dangers, action-oriented Corryn and scientifically minded Tez unearth the history of the camp. In a neat subversion of an oft-used trope, they learn that in the 1700s, the lake was cursed by the actions of a nefarious French trapper, leading the resident Miami Nation to abandon the area. Since the 1880s, the summer camp has opened and closed in 20-year cycles marked by disappearances—the first being the three girls whose faces the duo saw in the fire. Tez faces extra risks in physical scenes, as he has Marfan syndrome—only the staff knows; he’s enjoying having his peers treat him like a “regular kid.” Corryn presents white, and Tez is biracial, identifying as “half Chamorro” (his father is from Guam); other campers are diverse. While the main storyline resolves, a tantalizing ending suggests there are more chills to come in a planned sequel.

A ghastly good time. (Horror. 8-14)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-287163-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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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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Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read...

ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY

From the Mr. Lemoncello's Library series , Vol. 1

When a lock-in becomes a reality game, 12-year-old Kyle Keeley and his friends use library resources to find their way out of Alexandriaville’s new public library.

The author of numerous mysteries for children and adults turns his hand to a puzzle adventure with great success. Starting with the premise that billionaire game-maker Luigi Lemoncello has donated a fortune to building a library in a town that went without for 12 years, Grabenstein cleverly uses the tools of board and video games—hints and tricks and escape hatches—to enhance this intricate and suspenseful story. Twelve 12-year-old winners of an essay contest get to be the first to see the new facility and, as a bonus, to play his new escape game. Lemoncello’s gratitude to the library of his childhood extends to providing a helpful holographic image of his 1968 librarian, but his modern version also includes changing video screens, touch-screen computers in the reading desks and an Electronic Learning Center as well as floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stretching up three stories. Although the characters, from gamer Kyle to schemer Charles Chiltington, are lightly developed, the benefits of pooling strengths to work together are clear.

Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read is a winner for readers and game-players alike. (Mystery. 9-13)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87089-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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