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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Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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