cover image Life of Zarf: The Trouble with Weasels

Life of Zarf: The Trouble with Weasels

Rob Harrell. Dial, $14.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8037-4103-4

Harrell, who toyed with fantasy conventions in his graphic novel Monster on the Hill, plays around in the world of fairy tales in his entertainingly goofy middle-grade debut. Zarf the troll, whose grandfather was famously fooled by the three “billy goats gruff,” narrates his hapless middle-school existence in the medieval-meets-modern town of Cotswin. Trolls are already at the bottom of the social ladder, and Zarf’s temper isn’t doing him any favors. After the king is captured by dreaded Snuffweasels and the useless Prince Roquefort (Zarf’s nemesis at school) is put in charge of the kingdom, Zarf quickly winds up in the dungeon. He follows his grandfather’s advice to use his inherent trollish anger to do good, breaking out of prison and then heading off with his friends, worrywart Kevin Littlepig and unfunny jester-in-training Chester, to try to save the king. Harrell mixes references to Nerf, Red Bull, and cell phones into his fairy tale setting, which is brought to life in b&w spot illustrations throughout. A promising series kickoff full of off-kilter action and humor. Ages 8–12. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Sept.)