An interesting twist uplifts the ending of this second series entry.


From the Paola Santiago series , Vol. 2

A 13-year-old once again rises to face magical challenges.

Six months after defeating La Llorona, Paola Santiago is pulled back into the magical world when her vivid dreams return, this time featuring her absent father. Distanced from her best friends, Dante and Emma, Pao feels increasingly isolated and out of place, especially since her mother’s new boyfriend came into the picture and apparently will be moving into their apartment. Alone in her struggles and feeling frustrated, Pao finally jumps into action when Señora Mata, Dante’s grandmother, falls into a magically induced coma after appearing in her dreams and confusing her with Pao’s mother, Maria. Pao and Dante’s enmity continues as they set out, traveling from Arizona up the West Coast, reuniting with an old ally and battling fantasmas, in order to reach Pao’s dad and bring Señora Mata out of her coma. The journey is peppered with conversations about and instances demonstrating the vulnerability of minority populations around police and in health care. Queer Emma, whose characterization falls a bit flat, is active in their school’s Rainbow Rogues group and feels distant from Pao as her new social circle consists mostly of well-off White kids, in contrast to Latinx Pao’s financial struggles. Additionally, Emma’s zealous sharing of her newfound social justice awareness and efforts to be a White ally sometimes push Pao further away.

An interesting twist uplifts the ending of this second series entry. (Fantasy. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-04934-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun


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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An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart.


From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 2

Thirteen-year-old Jack Sullivan and his crew of monster-fighting besties are fresh off their victorious battle against the evil Blarg, but there’s no rest for the weary in the middle of a Monster Apocalypse.

First, Joe’s Pizza has become the local monster hangout. And second, the zombies seem to be disappearing. Thankfully, the white boy, his not-so-secret Latina love, June Del Toro, his African-American, science-nerd best friend, Quint, and pre-apocalypse bully–turned-ally Dirk, a large white boy who loves to garden, befriend a man-monster who might have the answers to everything. Equal parts humor, adventure, and warmth, the book offers fans of the series and new readers alike an entirely agreeable outing. Jack’s witty narration and Holgate’s pitch-perfect illustrations make for a terrific read that’s particularly well suited for middle-grade boys who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. There are plenty of foul-smelling, brain-sucking monsters and gizmos and gadgets to delight, but at its core, this is a story about friendship. Orphaned at birth and raised by a foster family he describes as jerks, Jack has always longed for a family of his own. Now that he has one, the only thing scarier than the monsters is the thought of losing them.

An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart. (Horror. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-670-01662-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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