Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

*Owlboy: The Girl with the Destructo Touch* by Thomas E. Sniegoski, illustrated by Eric Powell- young readers fantasy book review
Also by Thomas E. Sniegoski:

Billy Hooten: Owlboy

Owlboy: The Girl with the Destructo Touch
by Thomas E. Sniegoski, illustrated by Eric Powell
Ages 9-12 192 pages Yearling July 2007 Paperback    

Billy Hooten is back! It’s been a few weeks since twelve-year-old Billy received his night-vision goggles and saggy Owlboy costume. He’s read the Owlboy comics, made his costume alterations, tried out his new superpowers, and lowered the crime rate in Monstros City. This second book in the series opens with Owlboy fighting crime in the sewers. Billy’s freeze bomb stops the Sludge Sloggers in their oily globular tracks, but he has no time to enjoy his triumph. Billy has history lessons to sit through, a winning Halloween costume to design, and a destructive five-year-old to locate.

It’s going to destroy Billy if he doesn’t win this year’s prize for best Halloween costume. A one hundred dollar gift certificate from Hero’s Hovel is up for grabs. Seeing as Billy lives for comics - and he’s a real superhero himself - he needs this prize! But time has somehow gotten away from Billy (it could be all that crime-fighting he was doing underground in Monstros City), and now he has only three days to make an award-winning costume. His mom’s costume suggestion gives him nightmares, and his dad fails to see the seriousness of the situation. No one can help: his friends cannot sympathize because they are excited to be in the running this year, and his Owlboy sidekick and gadgetmaker from Monstros City don’t quite understand the concept of Halloween. They think he’s talking about “hallow beans,” and they are confused by the candy-giving aspect of the holiday.

Unfortunately, Billy cannot devote all his time to his costume design because Victoria, his five-year-old neighbor, is loose in Monstros City. Her “Destructo Touch” is wreaking havoc on the place. Buildings are crumbling, mechanical owls are turning to dust, and citizens are panicking in the streets. Victoria may be the most annoying person in Billy’s life, but she needs to be pulled out of there. Her tendency to topple things has banks being robbed and criminals getting rich.

There is quite a bit of humor here for young readers to enjoy. Victoria’s stuffed rabbit, Mr. Flops, turns in a walking, talking rabbit in Monstrous City. He even gets surprise pockets and an appetite for Creepy Cream Donuts. The villainous Sassafras Siblings have amusing scuffles, and what Billy does to them in the end with his transformed Crazy Cow Halloween costume is even more entertaining.

Thomas E. Sniegoski reveals more about Billy’s life in this newest book in the Owlboy series. We know Billy’s gag reflex isn’t superhuman, and he likes to turn to Zap Cola and old comic book for inspiration. We learn why Victoria tests his patience and where his secret invention room is located. In the first book, Billy’s conversations with his friends take place around the cafeteria table; in this newbook, we see Billy’s friend’s again at the Halloween Costume Extravaganza. Danny comes as a paramecium; Kathy is dressed as Witch 1 from Macbeth, Reggie is a Transmogrifier, and Dwight is the Grim Reaper. His friends play minor roles in the books, but they help us learn more about Billy’s school life, and their quirky personalities add humor.

As Owlboy, Billy finds clues to crimes with his keen eyes, and he captures villains with his creative inventions and prototypes. However, in a city where monsters live and Home Surgery Kits are sought-after items, a boy does need some help. His sidekick, Archebold, keeps the Book of Creeps handy. He can fly the Owlcopter, and he can keep watch at the Owlboy Roost when Billy is aboveground. Halifax, Owlboy’s gadget troll, comes in handy when it comes to making Death-Bots and installing security measures at the Roost. Criminals are easily identified, too, when you have great sketch artists like Bugsy on staff at the Monstros City Police Department.

Monstros City may be a safer place to live now that Sigmund and Sireena Sassafras are going to be “reunited” with their mom, but the city of Bradbury, Massachusetts may be in for a little destruction if Victoria gets her way - and name change.

Eric Powell has illustrated ten pages for Owlboy: The Girl with the Destructo Touch. His full-page illustrations are in black and white. The characters look like they were drawn with a thick black outline and shaded inside with various pencil strokes. The backgrounds are not given as much detail, and this helps readers keep their focus on the characters. The scenes are drawn with humor and a great deal of imagination. In Monstros City, one of the buildings has slanted mad eyes for windows, and the squids in the bank look hilarious wearing their voice-enhancing equipment.

Thomas E. Sniegoski has written novels and comic books. He is contracted for two more Owlboy books, and hopefully Eric Powell, the creator of the Goon comic series, is too.

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  Tanya Boudreau/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (