An appealingly silly but uneven supernatural adventure.

GHOSTED

A middle schooler tries to help his ghost best friend get to the other side.

Twelve-year-old Larry and his best friend, Grimm, are inseparable. They love doing wacky things like trying to dig to China, climbing the water tower, and anything else on their Totally To-Do List. They complement each other in the best possible way. One stormy night, while trying to rescue a cat, Grimm dies in an accident. As Larry sits forlornly in his treehouse, Grimm suddenly appears as a ghost. Larry decides to help his friend pass to the other side by finishing items from the Totally To-Do List. However, after each task, Grimm persistently floats by Larry’s side, and he realizes that maybe Grimm’s business isn’t something, it’s someone. But who? Meanwhile, at school people worry that Larry is talking to himself, since no one else can see Grimm. As Larry and Grimm work to figure things out, concerns about Larry’s mental state continue to grow. The plot is initially slow to pick up speed, and the somewhat flat characterizations of Larry and, especially, Grimm add to the unsteady pace. However, the final stretch is packed with action and character development, and the book closes on a higher note. Fry’s comical pen-and-ink–style drawings add humor and charm. The premise is solid but the execution leaves readers wanting more. Larry is White and Grimm is Black.

An appealingly silly but uneven supernatural adventure. (Paranormal. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-26961-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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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Worthy of every magical ounce.

CURSE OF THE NIGHT WITCH

From the Emblem Island series , Vol. 1

New Year’s Eve has finally arrived on Emblem Island, and for 12-year-old Tor Luna, it means an opportunity to wish away the leadership emblem he so deeply loathes.

Amid the annual festivities, Tor casts his wish to the wish-gods in hopes of a new emblem—a marker on one’s skin—that will grant him the power to become a water-breather, forsaking the leadership path forged by his Chieftess mother. Alas, his wish backfires when he awakens the next day cursed with a shorter lifeline instead. It’s the Night Witch’s mark, a black eye marked upon his skin. Now the young boy must travel across Emblem Island to confront the wicked Night Witch and reverse the curse. With two companions—Engle, his comically brave best friend, and Melda, an intelligent, cunning girl—Tor embarks on an adventure charted in The Book of Cuentos, a collection of folklore based on the various enchanting, cruel inhabitants—Emblemite and beast alike—of Emblem Island. Aster’s debut includes the fruitful elements of a riveting tale: lovable characters, thrilling heroics, and villainous fiends. What sets this series opener apart is the author’s exquisite use of real Latin American folktales to broaden her fiction, bolstering the particulars of the world she creates here. Pages from The Book of Cuentos fill the gaps between each chapter, providing island lore for flavor and context. Tightly paced, Tor’s adventure concludes with a promise of more to come.

Worthy of every magical ounce. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9720-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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