MAGIC PICKLE AND THE PLANET OF THE GRAPES

When the whole planet’s in a dilly of a dilemma, who ya gonna call? Magic Pickle, of course—that buff, green and all-kosher adversary of the scheming Brotherhood of Evil Produce. Dwelling in Capital Dill, a secret lab right beneath the bedroom of intrepid young sidekick JoJo Wigman, Pickle barrels out in this series opener to face the shriveled but powerful Razin’, whose plan for world conquest has kicked off with a barrage of well-aimed sour grapes that have turned everyone in JoJo’s school into round purple zombies. Morse illustrates this vegetarian adventure with plenty of splotchy, energetic line drawings that switch, for combat scenes, to sequential panels of sound-effects-heavy action. In the end, thanks to JoJo’s quick thinking and a brisk shower of strawberry juice, what passes for normality is restored and, as Pickle puts it, “we can raze The Razin’ from the roster of rogues.” Readers will be smirkin’ at the exploits of this gherkin. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-439-87996-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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High-energy high jinks in a multicultural, or at least multispecies, setting.

THE CASE OF THE BATTLING BOTS

From the Tank & Fizz series

Young sleuths stumble on a demonic conspiracy to blow the lid off Slick City’s new sports arena. Just for a start.

Goblin Fizz Marlow and troll gearhead Tank Wrenchlin are convinced that slimeball schoolmate Rizzo Rawlins’ supposedly homemade battle bot illegally incorporates professional-grade code and components. Their search for proof leads them and elven trainee wizard Aleetha to several puzzles. Who is the mysterious “Codex,” and why is he (or she) supplying Rizzo as well as hacking Slick City’s computer systems to threaten disaster if the just-finished Slurp Stadium is opened for the upcoming Battle Bot Cup? How did the stadium come to be built over a magic stone that could, as old maps hint, serve as a portal to demon worlds? What can a trio of fourth-graders do, opposed by corrupt officials, a bully with a pair of hulking hench-ogres, and a local business tycoon with—as it turns out—a high-tech hand-held demon controller? Well, plenty, though not without a few missteps, help from a surprising temporary ally, and lots of climactic bot-smashing. In a slick mix of narrative blocks and panels of nonscary monsters delivering punch lines in dialogue balloons, the exploit careens along to a triumphant close.

High-energy high jinks in a multicultural, or at least multispecies, setting. (Graphic/mystery/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0813-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Another radiant outing.

SWING IT, SUNNY

From the Sunny series , Vol. 2

A home-centered sequel to Sunny Side Up (2015), with incidents joyful and otherwise in a middle schooler’s life.

The tale is set in the 1976-77 school year and framed by references to TV shows of that era (both contemporaneous and reruns, including The Six Million Dollar Man, The Brady Bunch, and Gilligan’s Island, with amusingly pithy show notes for each). The story unfolds in successive episodes of Sunny’s self-conceived The Sunny Show that confront her with domestic challenges ranging from little brother Teddy’s filled diaper (“Something Smells”) to the stormy holiday visit by formerly loving but now angry, troubled big brother Dale, come home from a military-style boarding school (“Six Million Dollar Boy”). Despite such low notes, though, the general trend is upbeat—with Gramps coming up from Florida for a visit, a sisterly, Indian-American teen neighbor named Neela Singh moving in next door (adding some diversity to the otherwise all-white main cast), and a heartening if long-distance thank-you from Dale for the pet rock Sunny gives him at Christmas being particular highlights. Using a combination of short exchanges of dialogue and frequent wordless reaction shots, the Holms again leverage simply drawn scenes colored by Pien into a loosely autobiographical narrative that is poignant and hilarious in turn and emotionally rich throughout.

Another radiant outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-74170-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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