Unearthly tales sure to tingle the spines of fans new and old.

THE PUPPET'S PAYBACK AND OTHER CHILLING TALES

Twelve chilling tales from the grande dame of the ghost story.

A goodly number of Hahn’s 20-odd novels deal with the supernatural, especially spirits, and here she collects some of her shorter tales. Matthew skips school to enjoy the spring weather, which turns on him. Killing time in an arcade until he can go home, he sees a sinister stranger who then gets on the bus Matthew must ride home. Meeting Vince that dark night changes Mathew’s life forever (and he may well “live” that long). Jenny buys a haunted dress and solves a murder from the 1920s. In the title story, Jeremy, bullied by students and a particularly mean teacher, has the bad luck to end up with a cursed puppet…but even curses sometimes turn out to be beneficial. Two of the tales have sports themes, and others are historical spookers, so there is something for every fan of paranormal page-turners. Characters default to white. Four of the tales were previously published in 1990s-era anthologies. In an afterword, Hahn explains why she writes ghost stories and includes one she wrote as a high school senior (reworked as “Trouble Afoot” for Bruce Coville’s Book of Monsters, II, 1996, and also reprinted here).

Unearthly tales sure to tingle the spines of fans new and old. (Horror/short stories. 8-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-06732-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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