A joke that is on its way to wearing thin.


From the Scary School series , Vol. 2

A new semester of “learning, horror, and mayhem” at a school where all the faculty and half of the students are monsters, the narrator is a ghost and the Locker of Infinite Oblivion is just one of the dark fates awaiting incautious passersby.

With the same danger of sudden death but a lower body count than its predecessor, Scary School (2011), this patchy sequel opens with the rescue of a class that has been trapped on an endless slide all summer. (This was chronicled in an added chapter of Scary School buried on the author’s website.) It climaxes with a spirited defense of the school against an army of karate monsters and along the way introduces characters like budding author Steven Kingsley and aptly named Tanya Tarantula to join continuing ones. Among the latter shines weirdly ordinary Charles Nukid, whose struggles to escape the amorous advances of the Monster King’s daughter, Princess Zogette (“I have always had a thing for younger men. I am a quarter cougar, after all”), precipitate the climactic battle. Fischer’s black-and-white views of sober children and leering but unfrightening creatures reinforce the underlying premise that it’s all in fun. Even readers with a hearty appetite for monsters may find the onslaught becoming tedious after the first dozen or so episodes, though.

A joke that is on its way to wearing thin. (website) (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-16095-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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Come for the mystery, stay for the backmatter.


This gentle, fast-paced mystery will hook readers with interesting details.

Julieta Leal, 9, is a magnet for disasters. She has a reputation at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, where both her parents work, for making trouble. Julieta is just trying to help, and it’s not her fault that sometimes things get broken or she has a hard time following the rules. When Julieta’s dad invites her along on a trip to Paris regarding the loan of some pieces from the Louvre, she jumps at the chance to add another purple pin to her family’s world-travel map. She promises to be helpful and stay out of trouble and desperately wants to shed her reputation of being a liability. This proves difficult when the dazzling Regent Diamond is stolen and Julieta and her dad are implicated in the theft. With her dad’s job in peril and the prized gem missing, Julieta must rely on her keen observations and tenacity to clear their names. Detailed descriptions of Paris landmarks and factual information about museum pieces are woven naturally into the fast-moving plot so that readers come away with knowledge of these topics alongside a satisfying story. Several pages of backmatter notes bolster the learning. The endearing Julieta is bilingual, and she and her family are Mexican American.

Come for the mystery, stay for the backmatter. (glossaries) (Mystery. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64379-046-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Tu Books

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...


The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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