Beleaguered middle school troll Zarf gets a chance to show his true mettle when the Big Bad Wolf’s motorcycle-riding minions take the Littlepig family hostage in this sequel to The Trouble with Weasels (2014).
Following a mysterious local mutton shortage and a wild chase after an ungainly substitute math teacher who turns out to be a wolf in an ill-fitting sheep suit comes news that Littlepig Manor has been taken over. Zarf goes pelting to the rescue—temporarily disguised, thanks to an inexpertly applied body-switching spell, as a wolf. Harrell tells the tale Wimpy Kid–style with punch lines, much of the dialogue, and snarky asides (not to mention sight gags and significant looks) delivered by a cast of deadpan cartoon figures. Significant help from allies, notably dreamboat classmate Sierra Scarlet and Goldie Locks, a lunch lady with several unusual skills, leads at last to a dramatic escape and, for Big Bad, a long spell in a “maximum-security dungeon.” Before and after all the heroics, Zarf shrugs off a steady barrage of anti-troll pranks instigated by royal classmate Prince Roquefort (“a jerky little snot-basket”), and along with showing fair measures of courage and smarts, in the clutch he also keeps a firm handle throughout on the anger issues that beset his trollish kind.
A most admirable troll, notwithstanding the big floppy ears and flyaway orange hair. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 10-12)