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ATTACK OF THE FORTY-FOOT CHICKEN

From the Bonkers series , Vol. 2

A wonderfully weird, madcap tale with just a tiny bit of terror.

The town of Nevermind endures another zany episode, this time pitting an 11-year-old’s epic survivalist skills against an extremely large rooster.

Chronically overprepared Barker Mifflin has just started his second year of picking strawberries at McFadden Farm, receiving one essentially worthless McToken for each flat delivered. His stellar performance and survivalist know-how bring him to the attention of Megan McFadden, the farm owners’ 11-year-old daughter, who offers him a spot as a row commander and enlists his help solving an unusual problem. Her mother has mysteriously shrunk down to the size of a doll—apparently the work of Megan’s father, Maverick, a scientist who used to work at Colossal Chemistry. And before long, Barker crosses paths with the enormous chicken. It’ll take all his talents and maybe a little luck to avoid complete disaster while getting to the bottom of things. Though occasionally meandering, this second series installment is chock-full of wild antics, wacky wordplay, just enough scares to create suspense, and a generous sprinkling of Barker’s always entertaining, sometimes useful Survival Nuggets. Familiarity with the first entry in the series is recommended, though Carman has made a strong effort to keep this story accessible to newcomers. Characters’ descriptions are minimal.

A wonderfully weird, madcap tale with just a tiny bit of terror. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 25, 2024

ISBN: 9798212538381

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

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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 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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NARWHAL I'M AROUND

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

Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark.

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 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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