There’s a theory among comic-book readers that the supervillain is always more entertaining than the hero. This book puts...

DOUBLE TROUBLE

From the Vordak the Incomprehensible series , Vol. 3

At last, the supervillain tells his side of the story.

Vordak wants you to buy this book. He’s so eager for you to read it that he’s made you a character in the story. Yes, you. He demands: “Don’t you have studying or chores or your grandmother’s toenails to trim or something to occupy your time?” And you answer: “Actually, I AM studying. I’m using this book to help me with my science class.” Once in a while, Vordak asks for advice on taking over the world. He has an evil plan, but his army of scientists keeps having accidents in the Cloning Chamber. By the end of the book, there are at least nine scientists, all named Fred. Every few pages, another clone appears. These sequences are the funniest in the book. In fact, the Freds are more entertaining than Vordak, who tends to say things like: “I’m brilliant enough to know if I wasn’t as brilliant as I thought I was!” Vordak is best taken in small doses, and by the end of the story, you may wish that you were the main character.

There’s a theory among comic-book readers that the supervillain is always more entertaining than the hero. This book puts that theory to the test. (Humor. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60684-372-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Egmont USA

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Formula horror from the 1990s still feels formulaic today.

GRAVE SECRETS

From the Deadtime Stories series , Vol. 1

The Deadtime Stories from the mid-1990s are rising again—this time in conjunction with a planned series of live-action TV-movies.

In this lightly edited reboot, preteen Amanda discovers an old doll buried in her backyard and shortly thereafter begins receiving ghostly messages written in sand or bathroom steam along the lines of “I want my baby back—now!” Then the doll disappears. Getting it back entails multiple encounters with Anna, the child ghost from whom it was stolen long ago, and the hostile, spooky old lady next door known to Amanda and friends as “Barnsey.” The shudders here are laboriously manufactured by contrived cliffhangers at each short chapter’s end, an obnoxious character who revels in sharing eerie rumors about Barnsey’s supposed witchy ways, nighttime expeditions into her yard and, particularly, with frequent screams: “And Kevin, who had been screaming his head off over Anna’s appearance, stopped screaming mid-scream the moment he saw Barnsey.” There’s no overt gore or violence, Anna fades away once she’s reunited with her doll and Barnsey, unsurprisingly, suddenly turns into a nice old lady.

Formula horror from the 1990s still feels formulaic today. (Horror. 9-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3065-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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The frights are sharp but just momentary disturbances for a cozy, closely knit clan whose traditional way of life seems only...

TWO HAWK DREAMS

A seasonal move down from the mountains proves adventurous for two Shoshone children in this short historical tale set in what will become Yellowstone National Park.

His seventh summer coming to an end, Two Hawk reluctantly stays behind when his father and older brother go to gather in the big net used to trap bighorn sheep, then, with the rest of the family, he prepares for the annual journey to the lowlands. Three incidents make the trip a memorable one: A mountain lion attacks; Two Hawk’s sister Pipit is nearly swept away in a river; and following vague rumors of white men riding “big dogs,” a strange “hairy-face man” with a fire shooting “stick” comes by for a meal—leaving a handful of beautiful beads in thanks and odd marks on a strip of bark: “J. Colter 1807.” Presumably this is John Colter, a historical figure, the first European in the area, though as there is no historical note, readers are deprived of this or, in fact, much other context. Along with references to water spirits, a magpie brings Two Hawk dreams of flight, timely help, and at the end, promises of long life and wisdom. This mystical thread is echoed in nine full-page paintings from Joaquín that depict physical events, the dream and a Coyote tale that Two Hawk’s father tells, all in the same feathery, indistinct style.

The frights are sharp but just momentary disturbances for a cozy, closely knit clan whose traditional way of life seems only distantly threatened by change. (Historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8032-6488-5

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

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