Readers will remain intrigued through the final curtain of this frightfully fun tale.

THE TWILIGHT CURSE

From the Babysitting Nightmares series , Vol. 3

In Book 3 of the Babysitting Nightmares series, it’s Maggie Anderson’s turn in the spotlight.

Locals say the old Twilight Theater is cursed, but that doesn’t stop the 13-year-old aspiring actress from taking her first babysitting job looking after the daughter of the performer with the role of Lady Macbeth. When unexplainable events occur during rehearsals for the “Scottish play,” Maggie wonders if the theater really is cursed, but she’s hesitant to tell her friends about the unsettling happenings; they might think she’s an incompetent babysitter. Can Maggie handle the ghostly lady in red alone, or will she swallow her pride and ask for help? Observant readers will catch possible foreshadowing for the fourth book. Theater superstitions add intrigue: Never say “Macbeth” aloud in a theater unless you’re performing it; the ghost light must remain on when the theater is dark; and never wish an actor “good luck.” The story itself is engaging, but the handful of emotionless, flat black-and-white illustrations don’t add much value. Knowledge of the previous books isn’t necessary, but readers who like this one will want to pick up the first two for more chills and thrills. Artwork shows Maggie as white. Her friends are casually diverse: Tanya Martinez is implied Latinx; Rebecca Chin is implied Chinese; and Clio Carter-Peterson presents black.

Readers will remain intrigued through the final curtain of this frightfully fun tale. (Thriller. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-15701-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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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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