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1-2-3-4, I DECLARE A THUMB WAR

From the Graveyard Girls series , Vol. 1

A good blend of spooky and silly.

A scary-story–lovers’ club takes on a local haunting.

Misery Falls, Oregon, was the home of notorious killer Silas Hoke, said to return on the anniversary of his death to claim another victim. It’s also the hometown of the Grim Sleepers, a monthly sleepover club of middle school friends who are devoted to telling scary stories. Recently, though, the stories aren’t doing it, especially compared to the girls’ real-life conflicts: Track star Whisper’s newly blended family includes her bully; actor Frannie’s former best friend is now her rival in the school play; overachieving Sophie lives in her even more perfect sister’s shadow; and supernatural true believer (and club leader) Gemma struggles not to mess up her job at her family’s business, the Spirit Sanctuary. A creepy anonymous text message gathers the girls by Silas’ grave one night, where they’re surprised to see who wishes to join them and listen to a story, a cautionary tale about technology addiction in which texting thumbs go rogue. Moralizing calls for sympathy for villains (from school bullies to Silas himself) ring hollow but are fortunately brief. The humor is strong throughout, and the story is strongest when keeping readers guessing about what’s real—both in the interpersonal conflicts and the seemingly supernatural happenings. The cliffhanger plays up this element in order to launch readers into the next book. Most cast members present White; one key character is Japanese American.

A good blend of spooky and silly. (Horror. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4454-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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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HOLES

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

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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