Exactly what’s to be expected when you take candy from five-eyed purple extraterrestrials.

JONNY JAKES INVESTIGATES THE HAMBURGERS OF DOOM

From the Jonny Jakes series , Vol. 1

An investigative journalist saves his school from a fate worse than lunch.

“Jonny Jakes” (not his real name) has little trouble keeping his identity as publisher and chief reporter of the scandal sheet Woodford Word from his infuriated principal, Mr. Hardy. The stakes soar, though, when Hardy is replaced by “Mr. Jones,” a seemingly benign alien from the planet Huurl who passes out addictive, mind-altering candy followed by special hamburgers that instantly add rolls of fat to all who eat them. And soon everybody (including parents) has fallen under his spell except for light-skinned Jonny and recruited confederates Norris Morris and Julie Singh, both dark-skinned. What’s Jones’ game? The burgers also have the effect of producing, as Jonny puts it, “Gas. Both ends”—a phenomenon that’s not only described in loving detail, but fits nicely into a tale that also features blobby purple people eaters, gray food that smells like sweaty socks, references to puke and snot, clandestine meetings in boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, casual violence, and a climactic food fight that splatters the lunchroom with “chocolate fudge, raspberry bits, and luminous alien guts.” Along with a side dish of butt crack, Brown serves up cartoon images of secret messages, headlines, revealing photos, and characters. Though it’s a British import, the book’s action has been relocated to Massachusetts and the text Americanized.

Exactly what’s to be expected when you take candy from five-eyed purple extraterrestrials. (Science fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4965-2680-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Stone Arch Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action.

THE SILVER ARROW

From the Silver Arrow series , Vol. 1

The best birthday present is a magical train full of talking animals—and a new job.

On Kate’s 11th birthday, she’s surprised by the arrival of rich Uncle Herbert. Uncle Herbert bears a gift: a train. Not a toy train, a 102.36-ton steam engine, with cars that come later. When Kate and her brother, Tom, both white, play in the cab of the Silver Arrow, the train starts up, zooming to a platform packed with animals holding tickets. Thus begins Kate and Tom’s hard work: They learn to conduct the train and feed the fire box, instructed by the Silver Arrow, which speaks via printed paper tape. The Silver Arrow is a glorious playground: The library car is chockablock with books while the candy car is brimful of gobstoppers and gummy bears. But amid the excitement of whistle-blowing and train conducting, Kate and Tom learn quiet messages from their animal friends. Some species, like gray squirrels and starlings, are “invaders.” The too-thin polar bear’s train platform has melted, leaving it almost drowned. Their new calling is more than just feeding the coal box—they need to find a new balance in a damaged world. “Feeling guilty doesn’t help anything,” the mamba tells them. Humans have survived so effectively they’ve taken over the world; now, he says, “you just have to take care of it.” (Illustrations not seen.)

Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53953-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more