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*Billy Hooten: Owlboy* by Thomas E. Sniegowski, illustrated by Eric Powell- young readers fantasy book review
Also by Thomas E. Sniegoski:

Owlboy: The Girl with the Destructo Touch

Billy Hooten: Owlboy
by Thomas E. Sniegoski, illustrated by Eric Powell
Ages 9-12 256 pages Yearling July 2007 Paperback    

How can you be a superhero if your costume sags? Can you fight crime in an underground world if you dread gym class and fear dodgeball? Can you bring monster criminals to justice if you are only twelve? You can if you are Billy Hooten of Bradbury, Massachusetts.

Living beside a graveyard for nine years has been uneventful for Billy. The old stone wall separating the graves from his backyard is Billy’s reading spot; he likes sitting on the wall and reading his comics, his favorite being Snake. While there may be peace in the cemetery, there are crazy things happening inside one of the crypts. When Billy investigates, he is surprised by who's inside and shocked by what he learns. After interrupting a fight between a tuxedo-wearing goblin and a boar-headed man, Billy is told his new identity: Owlboy, the protector of Monstros City.

In Monstros City, the grocery store is stocked with Captain Wheezy’s Crunchy Critters, Canned Zamm, and Doc Corpuscle’s Instant Blood. The police detective is shapeless and dripping, and the Chief is chiseled and rock-like. The citizens of Monstros have been without a defender for some time now. The secret Owlboy roost and the yellow Owlmobile haven’t been used in over twenty years. With no protector, the city has become a criminal playground - and that is what has brought goblin Archebold aboveground. He needs to find the next Owlboy, and he’s pretty sure it’s Billy. He sees it in Billy’s eyes.

There are robbers who need to be stopped, a murder that needs to be solved, and candy loving perpetrators to be caught in Monstros City. Tibia, Fibula, and Patella, three incredibly bony robbers, are inside the monster grocery store threatening to extinguish the owner with their water guns. Another crime in the city involves a minivan-sized dead cockroach. He’s found surrounded by grape gum wrappers and with sticky indentations on his body. Using the full potential of his costume, all his new superhero powers, and a few Peeper Melons, Billy captures the criminals and becomes a hero. Ghost Juice and Cloud Cake sure taste good after a night of crime fighting in Monstros City.

When Billy goes back to “the normal world,” he can enjoy his monster movies and his robots and visit his friends and the comic book shop. He’s pretty accepting of his very forgetful mom and his mildly annoying neighbor. In this aboveground life, Billy still has to deal with Randy and his crew, but now he can do it with a new attitude and more confidence.

I’m going to read the next book in the series. I’m curious about what new gadgets Halifax will make for Owlboy, and I’m going to be looking for Firefly Walter and listening for the Heckleberry pie.

Thomas E. Sniegoski has worked with many companies in the comic book industry and has written a few fantasy books for a younger audience, including The Fallen series and the OutCast series. He lives in Massachusetts. Eric Powell is the writer and illustrator of The Goon series. Other comics he’s worked on include MAD Magazine, Hellboy: Weird Tales, and Swamp Thing.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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