From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6–When 11-year-old Minerva McFearless and her younger brother, Max, discover that they are the latest generation in a family of monster-hunters, their widowed father forbids them to learn anything about his dangerous occupation. Nonetheless, the siblings soon come upon Ms. Monstranomicon, a monster-hunter's manual that is a monster herself, and find themselves pursued by the minions of the vile Zarmaglorg, king of the monsters, who kidnaps their father. Zappa has written a passable first novel whose roots aren't hard to see–Ms. Monstranomicon bears strong similarities to one of Harry Potter's textbooks, for example. But the sardonic back-and-forth between Minerva, Max, and their know-it-all guide, Mr. Devilstone, is amusing, as are the photo-illustrations and the nature guide pages describing the disgusting creatures that they encounter and the often-disgusting formulas that the monster-hunter employs to defend against them. The protagonists are engaging, but the plot is fuzzy and the villains are stock. Still, children will enjoy the story, which ends, unsurprisingly, with the promise of a sequel.–Walter Minkel, New York Public Library
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Gr. 4-7. Minerva (Mini) and Maxwell McFearless, ages 11 and 9, respectively, have a grand adventure involving myriad monsters when they set out to rescue their kidnapped father. The McFearlesses come from a long line of monsterminators, and Mini is fluent in both written and spoken Monstrosity, the secret language of monsters. The book Ms. Monstanomicon contains descriptions of all types of monsters (mostly human-eating), along with extremely gross monster-repelling recipes. The kids are aided by Mr. Devilstone, a one-eyed coyote who wears the Enotslived Diamond, which works as a monster alarm, around his neck. The book is lavishly illustrated with the author's drawings of monsters and black-and-white photographs of scenes sculpted by Clay Sparks. Lemony Snicket fans who relish the strange and yucky will find Zappa's barf-filled romp, the first in a series, monstrously entertaining. Zappa is the son of Frank Zappa, which should draw attention. Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films have already acquired the film rights. Diana Herald
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