Pitched for chortles, not chills.

ROWLEY JEFFERSON’S AWESOME FRIENDLY SPOOKY STORIES

From the Awesome Friendly kid series

Fourteen original tales featuring ghosts, mummies, and other staples of beneath-the-bedsheets terror.

Actually, the scariest thing here is the cautionary preface, which warns away the easily frightened with enticing promises of “skeletons and zombies and human heads.” The stories deliver all of these and more, but invariably in a vein more comical than chilling—Anders, a disembodied head, matches up in school with Gunther, a headless body, to go after attractive classmate Prudence; an airport scanner turns everyone into skeletons (fun for a while, if boring at Halloween); a town survives the zombie apocalypse by creating “brains” made of tofu. In other highlights, two mummies duke it out in court after one trademarks “The Mummy” as a brand, and to win a science fair, young Victor literally makes a friend after visiting the cemetery behind his house. Rowley, credulous as ever, relates in the “100 percent TRUE” capper how his friend Greg Heffley became possessed by a demon after watching a horror movie on a sleepover and was only restored to himself by an application of toilet (in lieu of holy) water. Along with droll twists aplenty (Prudence ultimately goes off with Anders, leaving Gunther to grow up and become the Headless Horseman), Kinney tucks in one or more outline drawings on every page featuring racially indeterminate but White-presenting figures expressing, usually, exaggerated joy or dismay.

Pitched for chortles, not chills. (Short stories. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5697-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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

GHOSTS

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 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Like the pathfinders, readers will be crying, “Plus Ultra!” and hoping for the next adventure.

THE MYSTERY OF THE MOON TOWER

From the Pathfinders Society series , Vol. 1

Five intrepid, young pathfinders explore the environmentally volatile Windrose Valley in search of a fabled treasure.

Deep in Windrose Valley awaits an adventurous summer at Camp Pathfinder, founded by a renowned, eccentric pioneer named Henry Merriweather. Merriweather’s fixation on finding the legendary Windrose treasure serves as a grand catalyst for the campers’ quest. The eclectic group of campers—newcomer Kyle, history buff Beth, zany magician-in-training Harry, cheerleader/math queen Vic, and tinkerer Nate—sets off, running all over town to find Merriweather’s baroque tile markers. Eventually, their efforts lead them to the Merriweather Estate, where the campers slowly uncover the mystery behind the Moon Tower catastrophe. Shortly after the bizarre incident, Merriweather disappeared, and the town’s fortunes failed. As the adolescent pathfinders near the trail toward the Moon Tower and inch ever closer to the treasure, they learn more about the mythical Merriweather and his infamous obsession. Sedita, Seraydarian, and Hamaker’s series debut zips along nicely, mixing cryptic teases with affable characters. Though the quieter moments rarely make much of an impact, the authors’ exposition-heavy worldbuilding incites enthusiasm for the campers’ endeavor. The hints of magic in the snappy illustrations add another layer of allure. Featuring flashes of time slips and a racially diverse cast, this graphic novel hits all the right spots for the inevitable sequel.

Like the pathfinders, readers will be crying, “Plus Ultra!” and hoping for the next adventure. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-425-29186-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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