A shiveringly good tale for ghost-story enthusiasts who like happy endings.

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Two siblings experience spooky consequences after taking a strange pumpkin home from the woods in this text-light, Halloween-themed graphic novel for middle-grade readers.

A young girl is playing Poohsticks on a bridge when her older sibling and their friend steal her teddy bear out of her backpack. She chases the pair into the nearby woods, where they encounter an odd trio of scarecrows. The sibling then discovers a pumpkin that shakes, is covered in goo, and is warm to the touch. The friend leaves, deciding that the situation’s too weird, but the siblings decide to take the pumpkin home. Teddy bear forgotten, the two siblings lug the pumpkin back to their house and find a warm spot for it atop the clothes dryer. Halloween is the next day, and at midnight, something magical happens in the woods; one of the scarecrows comes alive, realizes that the pumpkin is missing, sees the teddy bear, and tracks the children to their home. Illustrator Meaghan Tosi amps up the scares in this section; although the scarecrow won’t be too creepy for middle graders, the images of its angry eyes and clenched fists ratchet up the tension as its inevitable meeting with the children approaches. The result, however, is unexpected, with a sweet plot twist that’s reminiscent of other monster-subverting tales, such as Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado’s Giants Beware (2012). The illustrator uses a subdued color palette to effectively communicate the different seasons (and, later, the spooky Halloween night). The story was originally the basis of a film written by author Thomas Tosi, and it translates beautifully to paneled storytelling; the illustrations capture the pacing perfectly, creating consistent suspense. The limited text requires readers to follow the art to understand the story, but Meaghan's clear, straightforward panel work flows cleanly across the pages. The simple vocabulary and brief dialogue exchanges make it accessible in a way that denser comics aren’t, making it a good selection for reluctant readers who like eerie adventures.

A shiveringly good tale for ghost-story enthusiasts who like happy endings.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022


Page Count: 78

Publisher: Dooney Press

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022


From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 2

An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart.

Thirteen-year-old Jack Sullivan and his crew of monster-fighting besties are fresh off their victorious battle against the evil Blarg, but there’s no rest for the weary in the middle of a Monster Apocalypse.

First, Joe’s Pizza has become the local monster hangout. And second, the zombies seem to be disappearing. Thankfully, the white boy, his not-so-secret Latina love, June Del Toro, his African-American, science-nerd best friend, Quint, and pre-apocalypse bully–turned-ally Dirk, a large white boy who loves to garden, befriend a man-monster who might have the answers to everything. Equal parts humor, adventure, and warmth, the book offers fans of the series and new readers alike an entirely agreeable outing. Jack’s witty narration and Holgate’s pitch-perfect illustrations make for a terrific read that’s particularly well suited for middle-grade boys who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. There are plenty of foul-smelling, brain-sucking monsters and gizmos and gadgets to delight, but at its core, this is a story about friendship. Orphaned at birth and raised by a foster family he describes as jerks, Jack has always longed for a family of his own. Now that he has one, the only thing scarier than the monsters is the thought of losing them.

An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart. (Horror. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-670-01662-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016


From the First Cat in Space series , Vol. 2

Fans of unbridled, melodramatic tomfoolery will be over the moon.

A taste of poisoned soup spurs the Queen of the Moon and her feline companion into embarking on a quest for a curative fruit from the orbiting orb’s only golden glumpfoozle tree.

In further exploits attended by the monosyllabic, spacesuit-clad titular feline (“Meow”), Harris and Barnett bring back the cast of The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza (2022), from diaper-wearing buccaneer Captain Babybeard to computerized toenail clipper LOZ 4000, for a lunar ramble past a pair of mysterious killbots, Psychic Flying Eyeballs of Death, and other hazards. Depicted in rolling arrays of changing palettes and panel sizes and led by the opalescent Queen of the Moon—who, ignoring her loudly rumbling tummy, stoutly declares that “my reign will not be cut short by soup”—the expedition fetches up at last on the edge of a bottomless crater for a last-minute save, appropriately over-the-top grandstanding by a familiar AI with futile protagonistic ambitions (“How many pages did I get this time? 73?”), and a closing celebratory soupfest, depicted Last Supper–style by a vermiform da Vinci. This volume continues the nonstop madcap fun; returning readers will not be disappointed, and new ones will quickly become avid followers of the world’s first feline astronaut.

Fans of unbridled, melodramatic tomfoolery will be over the moon. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9780063084117

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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