Loose ends and question marks will leave followers of the world eager for a third installment; readers new to the series...

A FESTIVAL OF GHOSTS

Alexander takes readers back to a contemporary world where ghostly haunts are part of daily life and librarians are specialists in appeasing the restless dead in this sequel to A Properly Unhaunted Place (2017).

Rosa Díaz reteams with pal Jasper Chevalier to tackle the appeasement needs of the local public school in a town still coming to grips with its newly haunted status. When students mysteriously begin to lose their voices, Rosa is determined to discover the root cause, though a needling feeling that her deceased father may be haunting her causes some ambivalence to and distraction from her quest. Meanwhile, Jasper tries to turn his new appeasement skills on the Renaissance Festival grounds, where ghosts of the distant past battle shadows of the present in a phantom turf war. While the first book in the series grappled with the consequences of grief avoidance, this addition turns outward, to the pain of remembering societal stories. Though not all history is pleasant, it all demands, quite forcefully, to be memorialized in some way in the town of Ingot. If mirrors are liminal spaces, perhaps this through-the-looking-glass world endeavors to shine its mirror on our contemporary struggles to honor and grieve the gray-hued past. Rosa is Latina, and Jasper is mixed-race (black/white).

Loose ends and question marks will leave followers of the world eager for a third installment; readers new to the series should start with Book 1. (Paranormal adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6918-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

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THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark.

NARWHAL I'M AROUND

From the Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter series , Vol. 2

An animal ghost seeks closure after enduring aquatic atrocities.

In this sequel to The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter (2020), sixth grader Rex is determined to once again use his ability to communicate with dead animals for the greater good. A ghost narwhal’s visit gives Rex his next opportunity in the form of the clue “bad water.” Rex enlists Darvish—his Pakistani American human best friend—and Drumstick—his “faithful (dead) chicken”—to help crack the case. But the mystery is only one of Rex’s many roadblocks. For starters, Sami Mulpepper hugged him at a dance, and now she’s his “accidental girlfriend.” Even worse, Darvish develops one of what Rex calls “Game Preoccupation Disorders” over role-playing game Monsters & Mayhem that may well threaten the pair’s friendship. Will Rex become “a Sherlock without a Watson,” or can the two make amends in time to solve the mystery? This second outing effectively carries the “ghost-mist” torch from its predecessor without feeling too much like a formulaic carbon copy. Spouting terms like plausible deniability and in flagrante delicto, Rex makes for a hilariously bombastic (if unlikable) first-person narrator. The over-the-top style is contagious, and black-and-white illustrations throughout add cartoony punchlines to various scenes. Unfortunately, scenes in which humor comes at the expense of those with less status are downright cringeworthy, as when Rex, who reads as White, riffs on the impossibility of his ever pronouncing Darvish’s surname or he plays dumb by staring into space and drooling.

Funny delivery, but some jokes really miss the mark. (Paranormal mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5523-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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