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VALENTINA SALAZAR IS NOT A MONSTER HUNTER

Fun and heartwarming.

Three siblings go on a road trip to find a mythical creature.

Eleven-and-a-half-year-old Valentina Alexander Salazar is the youngest sibling in a family that used to be monster protectors, rescuing creatures who cross over from another dimension and sending them back before they are killed by monster hunters. But since Val’s father’s untimely death during a mission gone wrong, her mother has taken the family off the road and settled into a more normal (and in Val’s honest opinion, dull) life. While her older siblings seem to be fully adapted to their new reality, Val struggles to fit in and secretly continues to track magical creatures. When the egg of a mythical being appears on her radar, she manages to convince her older siblings Rome and Lola to join her in finding and protecting it (deep inside hoping she can convince them to carry on with the family’s mission). This entertaining adventure novel is full of surprising twists and features a nice blend of science-fiction and fantasy worldbuilding. Ostensibly a story about monsters and how to deal with them, at its heart is the close-knit Salazar family, whose bonds are fraying at the edges of their shared grief, and their youngest child, who helps them with her fierce, earnest advocacy to remember who they truly are. The Salazars are originally from Ecuador, and most of the cast is brown-skinned.

Fun and heartwarming. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 28, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-71271-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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GHOSTS

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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