As monsters go, the amautalik is a satisfyingly disgusting and scary one, and this introduction should appeal to a broad...

THE DREADED OGRESS OF THE TUNDRA

Among the perils of the Arctic is the amautalik, a terrifying, child-snatching ogress.

This introduction to the lore of the amautaliit offers a brief overview of the creatures’ physical characteristics (huge, filthy, and ugly), habitat (underground), and accessories—typically, an amautalik carries a basket on her back, made of driftwood and bones and lined with rotting seaweed in which giant insects make their own homes. Christopher then offers two stories, the first fairly lengthy. Two naughty boys and a quiet little girl are snatched by an amautalik and carried away in her basket. Kunaju, the girl, keeps her head, and when her amulet turns into a magic snow bunting that distracts the ogress, she leads the two boys back home. In the second story, a clever orphan boy uses his wits to scare another amautalik away. The book closes with a four-page gallery of other Arctic monsters. MacDougall contributes pencil sketches and lush oil paintings of tundra, children, and monsters, as well as lovingly depicted and extremely icky giant bugs. Inuktitut words are defined in footnotes, along with pronunciations; in a particularly graceful design choice, a tiny ulu (a curved knife traditionally used by women) substitutes for an asterisk. There are no source notes or bibliography, but the author is a Nunavut resident and student of Inuit lore.

As monsters go, the amautalik is a satisfyingly disgusting and scary one, and this introduction should appeal to a broad range of middle-grade readers. (Folklore. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-927095-79-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark.

NARWHAL I'M AROUND

From the Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter series , Vol. 2

An animal ghost seeks closure after enduring aquatic atrocities.

In this sequel to The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter (2020), sixth grader Rex is determined to once again use his ability to communicate with dead animals for the greater good. A ghost narwhal’s visit gives Rex his next opportunity in the form of the clue “bad water.” Rex enlists Darvish—his Pakistani American human best friend—and Drumstick—his “faithful (dead) chicken”—to help crack the case. But the mystery is only one of Rex’s many roadblocks. For starters, Sami Mulpepper hugged him at a dance, and now she’s his “accidental girlfriend.” Even worse, Darvish develops one of what Rex calls “Game Preoccupation Disorders” over role-playing game Monsters & Mayhem that may well threaten the pair’s friendship. Will Rex become “a Sherlock without a Watson,” or can the two make amends in time to solve the mystery? This second outing effectively carries the “ghost-mist” torch from its predecessor without feeling too much like a formulaic carbon copy. Spouting terms like plausible deniability and in flagrante delicto, Rex makes for a hilariously bombastic (if unlikable) first-person narrator. The over-the-top style is contagious, and black-and-white illustrations throughout add cartoony punchlines to various scenes. Unfortunately, scenes in which humor comes at the expense of those with less status are downright cringeworthy, as when Rex, who reads as White, riffs on the impossibility of his ever pronouncing Darvish’s surname or he plays dumb by staring into space and drooling.

Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark. (Paranormal mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5523-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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