A case of lighthearted fun during the witching hour.

VINCENT VENTURA AND THE DIABOLICAL DUENDES/VINCENT VENTURA Y LOS DUENDES DIABÓLICOS

From the Monster Fighter Mystery series , Vol. 3

Monster fighter extraordinaire Vincent Ventura battles his latest foe: the dreadful duende!

It’s around 3 a.m.—the witching hour—when Vincent wakes up to the sound of someone moving into the house at 666 Duende St. Very odd. Stranger yet, Vincent notices that one of his new neighbors, a boy roughly Vincent’s age, speaks to himself before committing a random act of vandalism. As the boy, who Vincent learns is named Sayer Cantú, flees on his bike, Vincent notices a little green creature on his shoulder. It looks like there’s a new monster mystery afoot! Recruiting his reluctant twin cousins, Bobby and Michelle, Vincent slowly befriends Sayer, whose reputation as a “bad boy” at school and home seems to be caused by the creature’s influence. At the library, Vincent and his cousins learn the name of the monster that’s causing Sayer’s misery: the duende. But what does the duende want? To turn Sayer into a duende! Book 3 in Garza’s Monster Fighter Mystery series adds a little psychological horror to Vincent’s newest adventure, and this installment emerges as the tightest entry in the series yet as a result. Vincent shares the spotlight with his cousins a tad more, leading to a cohesive story centered on friendship and, more importantly, kicking monster butt. Odd turns of phrase still pepper the author’s text, but his enthusiasm for the characters and monster’s folklore origins (revealed with a shoutout to fellow author David Bowles) remains palpable as ever in this dual-language novel with a mostly Latinx cast.

A case of lighthearted fun during the witching hour. (Supernatural mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-55885-909-8

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Arte Público

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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It’s fine, but it doesn’t live up to its potential as a STEM-plus-caper adventure.

CITY SPIES

From the City Spies series , Vol. 1

This thriller reads like Miss Congeniality meets Kingsman, starring Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and Anishinaabe-kwe water protector Autumn Peltier…kind of.

Puerto Rican–born, Brooklyn-raised Sara isn’t expecting much from her court-appointed lawyer—she has no reason to put faith in the system that put her in jail after she hacked into the city’s computers to expose her foster parents as abusive frauds. But with juvie her only other prospect, Sara takes a leap and agrees to a wild proposition: She’ll join Britain’s MI6 as a kid operative. When she arrives at the covert facility in Scotland, she meets the other kids the MI6 agent, a white Englishman affectionately called Mother, has taken in—all of them, like Sara, have highly developed skills in logic, puzzles, sneakiness, and other useful spy tactics. Mother has a mission for them; he’s taking them to Paris to a competition for youth environmental innovation, where their job is to perform just well enough to make it into the top 10 so they can protect the eccentric billionaire sponsor of the contest from an imminent threat. It’s a fun romp with timely but superficial things to say about environmental activism, though the recruitment process and messy organization stretches the imagination even with a hardy suspension of disbelief. For a spy story, it’s surprisingly interior focused rather than action packed. The cast is technically diverse in ethnic background, but this has next to no influence on the characters.

It’s fine, but it doesn’t live up to its potential as a STEM-plus-caper adventure. (Thriller. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1491-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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