Another crowd pleaser: funny, intelligent, and richly spiced with gross bits.

ELECTRIC BOOGERLOO

From the I Am Fartacus series , Vol. 2

Talented prankster Maciek “Chub” Trzebiatowski vows to go straight in seventh grade…with predictable results.

Chub’s resolve to keep his nose clean doesn’t last past the second day as he finds himself, along with nemesis/ex-friend Archer, pre-placed at the top of draconian new principal Gunborg Lockhart’s hit list due to their extensive records of past misdeeds. The prospect of instant expulsion on the slightest pretext forces the two into reluctant alliance when Lockhart’s prized artwork Electric Kangaroo—by renowned one-armed glass artist Wahoolie but so resembling a pile of purple snot that Chub dubs it Electric Boogerloo—is stolen by parties unknown. Bald since second grade due to a misguided chemistry experiment and glib as all get out, the ever enterprising Chub makes a memorable narrator as he dishes up a lively account of the ensuing desperate search for clues to the culprit. He also heads a posse of classmates who likewise display as many human quirks as comedic ones, such as Levi “Moby” Dick, who is intestinally hyperactive and so the (literal) butt of many gags but, with no motive beyond altruism, impulsively surprises Chub with a rare and coveted comic. Aside from comics-loving Japanese-American newcomer Megumi, the Seattle cast presents as white.

Another crowd pleaser: funny, intelligent, and richly spiced with gross bits. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6423-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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Not for the faint of heart or stomach (or maybe of any parts) but sure to be appreciated by middle school zombie cognoscenti.

ZOMBIE BASEBALL BEATDOWN

Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle meets Left for Dead/The Walking Dead/Shaun of the Dead in a high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse, complete with baseball (rather than cricket) bats.

The wholesome-seeming Iowa cornfields are a perfect setting for the emergence of ghastly anomalies: flesh-eating cows and baseball-coach zombies. The narrator hero, Rabi (for Rabindranath), and his youth baseball teammates and friends, Miguel and Joe, discover by chance that all is not well with their small town’s principal industry: the Milrow corporation’s giant feedlot and meat-production and -packing facility. The ponds of cow poo and crammed quarters for the animals are described in gaggingly smelly detail, and the bone-breaking, bloody, flesh-smashing encounters with the zombies have a high gross-out factor. The zombie cows and zombie humans who emerge from the muck are apparently a product of the food supply gone cuckoo in service of big-money profits with little concern for the end result. It’s up to Rabi and his pals to try to prove what’s going on—and to survive the corporation’s efforts to silence them. Much as Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker (2010) was a clarion call to action against climate change, here’s a signal alert to young teens to think about what they eat, while the considerable appeal of the characters and plot defies any preachiness.

Not for the faint of heart or stomach (or maybe of any parts) but sure to be appreciated by middle school zombie cognoscenti. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-22078-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Narrow squeaks aplenty combine with bursts of lyrical prose for a satisfying adventure

THE GOOD THIEVES

A Prohibition-era child enlists a gifted pickpocket and a pair of budding circus performers in a clever ruse to save her ancestral home from being stolen by developers.

Rundell sets her iron-jawed protagonist on a seemingly impossible quest: to break into the ramshackle Hudson River castle from which her grieving grandfather has been abruptly evicted by unscrupulous con man Victor Sorrotore and recover a fabulously valuable hidden emerald. Laying out an elaborate scheme in a notebook that itself turns out to be an integral part of the ensuing caper, Vita, only slowed by a bout with polio years before, enlists a team of helpers. Silk, a light-fingered orphan, aspiring aerialist Samuel Kawadza, and Arkady, a Russian lad with a remarkable affinity for and with animals, all join her in a series of expeditions, mostly nocturnal, through and under Manhattan. The city never comes to life the way the human characters do (Vita, for instance, “had six kinds of smile, and five of them were real”) but often does have a tangible presence, and notwithstanding Vita’s encounter with a (rather anachronistically styled) “Latina” librarian, period attitudes toward race and class are convincingly drawn. Vita, Silk, and Arkady all present white; Samuel, a Shona immigrant from Southern Rhodesia, is the only primary character of color. Santoso’s vignettes of, mostly, animals and small items add occasional visual grace notes.

Narrow squeaks aplenty combine with bursts of lyrical prose for a satisfying adventure . (Historical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1948-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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