Printz Award Honoree and National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti debuts in middle grade with a tongue-in-cheek hero's journey set in a town full of magic, mayhem, lighthouses... and evil.
The story takes place in a world much like ours, but at the same time not at all like ours, in which Vlad Luxor--a capricious, vain, infantile tyrant--rules over a town with an iron fist. He's an emperor with no clothes, but woe is the person who points that out--they could wind up turned into a squirrel or lizard or who knows what! For in this world, the evil leader also has magic, which he uses to punish anyone who speaks out against him.
But in every classic tale with a despicable villain, there must also be a truly noble hero--in this case, four of them! Henry, Apollo, Pirate Girl, and JoJo must be their most brave and clever to break the spell Vlad Luxor has cast on Apollo's brother, Rocco. For we can't have Rocco remain a naked lizard for the rest of his life, now can we?
" The breathless plot . . is rich in riddle-solving, cliffhangers, hiding from bad guys, lock-picking, near-death experiences, riding bikes really fast, and comedy . . . [with] an original, deadpan touch that keeps the tone buoyant in this exhilarating, often poignant adventure." -- The Horn Book
"[T]his fast-paced middle grade debut from YA author Caletti ( A Heart in a Body in the World) offers an allegorical message about activism and cooperation." -- Publishers Weekly
"The hopeful tone [of this conversational series starter] is encouraging, and the focus on the power of knowledge and books may lead readers back to the stacks. . . This magical adventure is a good fit for fans of Brandon Mull's Fablehaven and Karuna Riazi's The Gauntlet." -- School Library Journal
"[A] tongue-in-cheek middle-grade fantasy, [which] fans of the genre will enjoy [as the] sympathetic protagonist who, after years of self-doubt, is thrust into the role of hero." -- Booklist
Deb Caletti is the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of over sixteen books for adults and young adults, including Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, a finalist for the National Book Award, and A Heart in a Body in the World, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. Her books have also won the Josette Frank Award, the Washington State Book Award, and numerous other state awards and honors, and she was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award. She lives with her family in Seattle.