Young heroes both male and female rout many excellent monsters—what’s not to like? (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

KNIGHTS VS. MONSTERS

Knights errant who cut their teeth battling dinosaurs in the previous episode take on magical mist monsters.

Fresh from the exploits chronicled in Knights Vs. Dinosaurs (2018) and on the lookout for a “proper adventure,” Sirs Erec, Bors, and Hector, the fearsome Black Knight Magdalena, and former squire in disguise Melancholy “Mel” Postlethwaite fetch up in the bleak Orkney Isles, where sorcerous Queen Morgause plans to do them in as part of a larger scheme to dethrone King Arthur. Along with several of her raffish offspring—including creepy young Mordred, who temporarily turns Sir Hector into a two-headed “bi-clops”—the doughty Band of the Terrible Lizards faces burgeoning hordes of monsters summoned out of the fog by the evil queen. Though chock-full of briskly paced action and glints of humor, this is a darker tale than its predecessor, colored more by its harsh setting and undercurrents of treachery than all the knightly feats and values on display. Phelan’s many panels and full-page drawings have an ashy, smudged look that adds to the gloomy atmosphere, and as someone who plainly has a few heavy secrets in her past, Magdalena projects a cold, austere remoteness that dims the rest of the company’s (rarer than previously) comical banter and bumbling. Still, a pleaser for fans of Gerald Morris’ Arthurian delights.

Young heroes both male and female rout many excellent monsters—what’s not to like? (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-268626-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

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It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that...

BEN FRANKLIN'S IN MY BATHROOM!

Antics both instructive and embarrassing ensue after a mysterious package left on their doorstep brings a Founding Father into the lives of two modern children.

Summoned somehow by what looks for all the world like an old-time crystal radio set, Ben Franklin turns out to be an amiable sort. He is immediately taken in hand by 7-year-old Olive for a tour of modern wonders—early versions of which many, from electrical appliances in the kitchen to the Illinois town’s public library and fire department, he justly lays claim to inventing. Meanwhile big brother Nolan, 10, tags along, frantic to return him to his own era before either their divorced mom or snoopy classmate Tommy Tuttle sees him. Fleming, author of Ben Franklin’s Almanac (2003) (and also, not uncoincidentally considering the final scene of this outing, Our Eleanor, 2005), mixes history with humor as the great man dispenses aphorisms and reminiscences through diverse misadventures, all of which end well, before vanishing at last. Following a closing, sequel-cueing kicker (see above) she then separates facts from fancies in closing notes, with print and online leads to more of the former. To go with spot illustrations of the evidently all-white cast throughout the narrative, Fearing incorporates change-of-pace sets of sequential panels for Franklin’s biographical and scientific anecdotes. Final illustrations not seen.

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that adds flavor without weight. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93406-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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A kid adventurer with a disability makes this steampunk offering stand out.

BRIGHTSTORM

From the Brightstorm series , Vol. 1

Orphaned twins, an adventurer dad lost to an ice monster, and an airship race around the world.

In Lontown, 12-year-old twins Arthur and Maudie learn that their explorer father has gone missing on his quest to reach South Polaris, the crew of his sky-ship apparently eaten by monsters. As he’s accused of sabotage, their father’s property is forfeit. The disgraced twins are sent off to live in a garret in a scene straight out of an Edwardian novel à la A Little Princess. Maudie has the consolation of her engineering skills, but all Arthur wants is to be an adventurer like his father. A chance to join Harriet Culpepper’s journey to South Polaris might offer excitement and let him clear his father’s name—if only he can avoid getting eaten by intelligent ice monsters. Though some steampunk set dressing is appropriately over-the-top (such as a flying house, thinly depicted but charming), adaptive tools for Arthur’s disability are wonderfully realistic. His iron arm is a standard, sometimes painful passive prosthesis. The crew adapts the airship galley for Arthur’s needs, even creating a spiked chopping board. Off the ship, Arthur and Maudie meet people and animals in vignettes that are appealingly rendered but slight. Harriet teaches the white twins respect for the cultures they encounter on these travels, though they are never more than observers of non-Lontowners’ different ways.

A kid adventurer with a disability makes this steampunk offering stand out. (Steampunk. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-00564-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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