August DuPont has spent his whole life in a dilapidated house with his aunt Hydrangea. But his lonely existence is broken by a sudden invitation to have lunch with an aunt he didn't even know existed. August travels to meet his aunt Orchid and cousins, who are equally shocked to know he exists. When Orchid suggests that August attend school with his cousins, it's a dream come true. But August has scarcely begun to celebrate his reversal of fortune when he is confronted by a small problem on his way home. So begins an adventure filled with a wild child, a zombie, a fabled white alligator, and a family secret stranger than August could ever imagine.
"Life for August DuPont, heir to a defunct hot-sauce empire, hasn't been what one would consider normal. For starters, he's never stepped outside of the decaying mansion where he lives with his high-strung, tiara-wearing Aunt Hydrangea, and the only kids his age he's ever seen have been on TV or delivering groceries to the mansion. It's a shock, then, when he receives an invitation from his hitherto unknown Aunt Orchid, asking him to tea. The visit is eye-opening in many ways. Apparently, a past relative had been a necromancer, and if August can find Orfeo DuPont's lost zombie stone, Aunt Orchid will enroll him in school with his cousins. Dreams of school, a friend gang, and most coveted of all someone with whom to exchange a high five flit before August's eyes, and he agrees. While passing a cemetery on his way home, August discovers he is being followed by young, newly undead Claudette DuPont, whom he just can't shake. Campbell's series-starter is an off-kilter delight featuring many of his own illustrations, which, though unseen, should be a fantastic addition, considering his artwork for Kate DiCamillo's Flora and Ulysses (2013). August's discoveries of family secrets unlock even greater mysteries, and readers who like macabre tales tempered with butterflies will eagerly follow Campbell's likable protagonist onward to his next adventure.--Julia Smith Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Campbell (Flora & Ulysses) leaps assuredly into middle grade fiction in this, well, spirited series opener featuring a cast of enchantingly eccentric characters. August DuPont lives in the garret of his family's crumbling manse with his quirky Aunt Hydrangea, who, fearing for his safety, refuses to let the 11-year-old outdoors. August's only knowledge of peers derives from a TV show about a group of friends-a program that he views, via telescope, on a TV located on a ramshackle houseboat nearby. Lonely and longing to "join the world," August insists on accepting an invitation to visit Hydrangea's equally offbeat sister, Orchid, estranged since she married a descendant of the ruthless entrepreneur who drove the DuPonts' prosperous hot sauce company out of business. Venturing beyond the garden gate for the first time, August gets a whirlwind introduction to the real-and not so real-world when he meets an undead girl in a cemetery, who removes and offers him one of her eyeballs, then refuses to leave his side. With wry humor and inventive plotting, Campbell reveals August's tangled, magic-tinged ancestry while shaping a poignant portrait of a boy-and a zombie-in search of friendship. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. Agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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