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Review: Desmond Pucket and the Mountain Full of Monsters

If you feel like bookstores and library shelves in the children section are overflowing with illustrated diary novels, you won’t be wrong. But kids are loving the format, and as I always say, “Whatever floats your boat.” If that’s what they want to read and it gets someone reading for 20 minutes each day, then go for it!

Desmond Pucket and the Mountain Full of Monsters
By Mark Tatulli
AMP Comics for Kids. $13.99
240 p. ISBN 978-1-4494-3549-3
Recommended for grades 4+

Desmond Pucket is a bit different than the average diary protagonist. He has a unique ability and desire to scare people. While you might think this puts the title in the horror category, that would be a wrong assumption. This title clearly belongs in the humor section.

In the first volume, Desmond was getting into all sorts of trouble because he was so busy scaring people—so much so that he was at risk to lose the privilege of going to Crab Shell Pier, an amusement park he desperately wanted to visit so he could ride on the Mountain Full of Monsters Roller Coaster. He does get to go, but only under the watchful eye of the Dean of Discipline, Mr. Needles.

The second volume opens the day of the trip. Desmond has a plan: He’s going to ask the girl he likes, Tina Schimsky, to ride the roller coaster with him. But it all goes awry. Then Desmond finds out that the park is planning to tear down the roller coaster. It’s a travesty. But Desmond has another plan: He’ll buy the monsters from the park—if only he can raise enough cash. He decides to open a business charging people for scares—at birthday and slumber parties, little brothers, etc. He even employs Tina Schimsky’s brother, who’s got loads of talent, to join the business.

This lively tale is full of quirky and exaggerated characters, such as the Christmas-obsessed grandparents, Mr. Needles, and of course, Desmond himself. The plot is well developed and will appeal to readers. Many of the feelings are recognizable to the average reader, even if the situations aren’t quite lifelike. There is little or no mention of the first volume, so readers won’t be confused, but they will miss something if they have not read the first volume.

The illustrations are expected to be in full color (I was reading an advance review copy) and show lots of humor. Desmond is drawn a little bit Frankenstein like, but he will appeal to young readers.

If you’re trying to engage your child into reading some more this summer, pick up a copy of Desmond Pucket and see if that gets them reading.

This review is based on a complimentary advance review copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © AMP Kids

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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