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VILLAIN’S LAIR by Wendelin Van Draanen


The Gecko & Sticky #1

by Wendelin Van Draanen, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-375-84376-1
Publisher: Knopf

A wittily offbeat and action-packed adventure. Readers are immediately plunked into the action as Dave and his talking gecko, Sticky, make their way to Damien Black’s creepy mansion through a bat-infested, oozing cave. They are after the magical ingots, which, paired with a wristband already in their possession, give the wearer various amazing powers. Black is an old-fashioned villain, with a “Bwaa-ha-ha-ha-ha!” sense of devilishness, and things get hairy when Dave and Sticky—a reformed (?) thief formerly in Black’s employ—are trapped in Black’s Pit of Doom. The two narrowly escape with one ingot, the one that provides wall-walking abilities, with Black and his bumbling cohorts in pursuit—all in the first half. The second half is less of a romp, as the villains look for Dave and mistake another boy for him. By tale’s end Sticky and Dave learn to trust each other, and, of course, the power of good prevails over evil. A dastardly good read that benefits from its quirky drawings and may well become a can’t-wait-for-the-next-one series. (Fantasy. 8-12)