Little does Runt Higgins suspect that keeping his hard-won place in the Junior Henchman Training Program will not only require battling bullies and giant gorillas, but rescuing undercover librarians and putting on a fashion show.
Runt is both mysterious of past and, due to a certain death curse, short of future. He is therefore astonished when an attacking Oti—a ravening “land piranha” disguised (to nonmagical eyes) as a Girl Explorer—doesn’t eat his face because he’s “fameely.” This clue to his origins leads him eventually to the Great Library, a fabled repository of all knowledge, though not before Grau pitches him into a barrel full of pickles that tests every ounce of what turn out to be considerable funds of courage and ingenuity. He draws on these to handle tasks that range from rescuing a panicky fire-breathing dragon to pulling from disaster a student fashion show hastily concocted by his school’s erratic headmaster to appease the arrogant moms of the powerful Siren Syndicate. As he does this, Runt continues to develop admirable chops at rising to challenges and also at resolving both personal and larger-scale conflicts. He plainly has a bright future…brief though it promises to be. Sutphin himself displays a dab hand at depicting googly-eyed monsters, hostile or otherwise, in the scattered illustrations.
Another smart, funny romp featuring a notably diverse cast headed by a minion who’s looking more and more like a hero. (map) (Fantasy. 11-13)