An exceptionally fun read.


From the Camp Murderface series , Vol. 2

There’s something in the water in the creature-feature sequel to Camp Murderface (2020).

After unraveling the haunting of Lake Sweetwater and helping the ghosts to rest, Tez is ready to kick back and make the most of the few weeks of summer camp they have left. Corryn, however, is convinced the horror’s merely on hiatus. When Ew tells Corryn her strange dreams about the lake, Corryn’s on high alert and the first to notice the counselors’ fixation with getting kids in the lake—and the subsequent memory loss experienced by those kids. While the dual narration works well for filling in missing memories, sometimes it results in repetitive exposition, and it may put readers too far ahead of the characters in solving parts of the mystery. Once too much dangerous weirdness piles up, the heroes’ bunkmates want to join the team, which they dub the Murderfaces. The characters’ humor and interpersonal dynamics keep the book lively in the face of injuries and body horror. Tez’s Marfan syndrome enhances his vulnerability throughout. The grand finale is a lengthy summer blockbuster of a climax in which, despite help from unexpected sources, it’s up to the kids to save themselves. The camp population has implied diversity; Corynn presents as White, and Tez’s grandmother is from Guam (the rest of his heritage is not specified). The end hints at some horror remaining after the happy denouement.

An exceptionally fun read. (Horror. 8-14)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287166-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...


Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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Splendiferous—and sure to lead readers back to previous puzzle adventures.


From the Mr. Lemoncello's Library series

Luigi Lemoncello gets inspiration from a master showman.

After writing five successful adventures starring legendary billionaire Prof. Lemoncello, Grabenstein looks back in time to 1968, when young Luigi, the seemingly talentless middle child in a large Italian American family, realizes that his love for puzzles and games is his personal gift. When the 13-year-old successfully solves the rebus puzzle and attracts more customers to the Balloon-centration booth at a summer carnival, barker Prof. Marvelmous offers him a job. Marvelmous becomes a mentor; his niece, Maggie, a friend. She and Luigi visit the library regularly, follow treasure hunts offered by a local radio station, and work together to discover the secrets of the elaborate puzzle box Marvelmous has created. The author offers hints and instructions for solving the puzzles and has left one more (plus his email address) for readers to solve on their own. The fast-paced narrative includes good reading suggestions, popular music from the ’60s, and occasional solid advice. As in earlier books, there’s stress on the importance of teamwork and empathy—young Luigi is as thoughtful and caring as a teenager as he is later as the donor of a splendid library and instigator of brain-teasing contests. Luigi’s bullying blond nemesis, Chadwick Chiltington, is likely the father of Charles from previous series entries.

Splendiferous—and sure to lead readers back to previous puzzle adventures. (excerpt from Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library) (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48083-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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