The Last Kids on Earth: Thrilling Tales from the Tree House

Viking. (Last Kids on Earth). Apr. 2021. 208p. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9780593350065.
Gr 4-6–Brallier presents the first original graphic novel installment in his wildly popular “Last Kids on Earth” series, which centers on 13-year-old Jack and his friends June, Quint, and Dirk, who fight monsters after a zombie outbreak in their town. When their tree house sanctuary is attacked by a gigantic monster, the kids and their duo of monster comrades all want a piece of the creature. Each claims to be best suited to take down the terror, and all want to do it solo, so Jack suggests a storytelling competition to see who should get the honor of charging into battle. While the time suck of the contest framing device may frustrate some readers, they’ll be pulled in by the exciting, absurd tales. The vibrant, full-color stories, each illustrated by a new collaborator who brings a different aesthetic, are separated by gray-tone cartoon segments in which the characters debate the accuracy of the stories and decide who should go next. Chock-full of baseball baddies, wicked witches, killer clowns, and so many monsters, the tales ferry readers to a satisfying conclusion as our heroes learn the power of teamwork—and get a surprise last-minute entry into the contest. Dated references (like a shoutout to MTV’s Nineties-era Rock N’ Jock) aside, it’s an absorbing, thrilling read. June is Latinx, Quint is Black, and Jack and Dirk are white.
VERDICT A sort of kid-friendly Canterbury Tales, this collection will be warmly received by the many fans of the prose series and the Netflix adaptation.

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