Evocative, enthralling and with absolutely astounding artwork so good readers will wish that, like summer, it would last...

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    Best Books Of 2014

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RULES OF SUMMER

One summer, two brothers live by mysteriously dire rules laid down by the older of the pair.

The little one lists what he learned: “Never leave a red sock on the clothesline”; “Never eat the last olive at a party”; “Never ruin a perfect plan”—and so on. What if you break a rule? You risk facing monstrous red rabbits, crow armies, teetering robots, lumbering metal dinosaurs, large lizards, overgrown fungus and more. You’ll miss a chance to ride on that whizzing red rocket, to catch a shooting star, to visit that glowing, golden kingdom inside the gate. Vivid acrylics and oil paints depict a pretend world so surreal, so specific (and sometimes so downright disturbing) readers will spend hours poring over its subtleties and subtexts. They’ll puzzle over the brother’s urgent directives too, which vacillate between painfully obscure injunctions and specific commandments quick as a thunderclap. The attachment and tensions between the boys stream clear throughout, however, with the younger racing to catch up and worrying over trespasses he never knew to avoid. Amid the murky peril and bizarre cast of reappearing characters, the brothers’ relationship and its powerful emotional undertow remains the centrifugal force, holding each image—and the entire book—together.

Evocative, enthralling and with absolutely astounding artwork so good readers will wish that, like summer, it would last forever. (Picture book. 4 & up)

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-63912-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.

THE TOWER OF NERO

From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE SKELETON ROAD

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 6

The monster-fighting gang from Wakefield departs on a post-apocalyptic road trip.

In this sixth installment of the heavily illustrated, Netflix-adapted series, quirky Jack Sullivan and his friends June, Quint, and Dirk finally leave their creature-ridden town in search of the ultimate baddie, Thrull, who previously deceived them. The quartet takes their tricked-out ride (an armored RV named Bad Mama) onto the open road (with Jack’s Zombie Squad in tow) to find the Outpost, where they believe a certain monster will be able to give them the location of the evil Tower where they believe Thrull now resides. Of course, the journey is littered with all kinds of nightmarish beasts and pitfalls (including an epic water park battle and slime-dripping baby monster), but the kids persist, armed with their endless gadgets and quick thinking. As the group races toward Thrull, the action culminates with an achingly tantalizing cliffhanger; expect audible groans and vociferous demands for the next installment. Fans of this series will revel in this fast-paced escapade with its recognizable black-and-white illustrations and trademark humor. Readers new to the series or those who are only familiar with the animated show may be a bit put off by this later volume that relies heavily on its own language of monsters and weapons. Jack, June, and Dirk are light-skinned; Quint is dark-skinned.

Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger. (Graphic fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984835-34-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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