Satisfyingly over-the-top mayhem for all “low and slow” fans.

LOWRIDERS TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH

From the Lowriders in Space series , Vol. 2

The Lowriders in Space saga continues with an even crazier ride than the first.

After an earthquake, Lupe the supermechanic impala, Elirio Malaria the mosquito, and El Chavo Flapjack the octopus realize that Genie the cat has gone missing. Trailing him in their galactic lowrider, they’re soon stymied by an amazing maíz maze of gigantic corn, where a punny, Gandalf-like coyote relates a fractured-mythological tale of how the Aztec god of the underworld uses the maze to trap victims forever. Undeterred, the friends plunge into a cave, where they’re surrounded by “metaphoric” rocks (“the building blocks of poets everywhere”). In the underworld, a gleefully bizarre and culturally dense adventure ensues. The friends meet the inconsolable, pre-Hispanic legend La Llorona, who believes Flappy is her lost child. Further in, they arrive at a macabre carnival midway where Day of the Dead references abound and the chupacabra drives a monster truck. When the gobsmacked compañeros finally find the caged (but still intact) Genie, they also come face to face with their nemesis, lucha libre fanatic and god of the underworld Mictlantecuhtli (“Mic to you, ¡idiotas!”). Lupe must wrestle him for her cat’s freedom, but Genie has a surprise for everyone. Raúl the Third’s ultradetailed crosshatched artwork more than meets the demands of this cast-of-thousands comic opus. The copious Spanish vocabulary is defined in footnotes and again in a glossary in the backmatter.

Satisfyingly over-the-top mayhem for all “low and slow” fans. (Graphic fantasy. 8-13)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2343-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

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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