Thursday, June 13, 2024

Villains Academy by Ryan Hammond

Today's read promises a little evil fun and adventure. The School for Good and Evil is the first thing I thought of when seeing this, but with just the evil part, obviously. This read should be sillier, though, and it's for chapter book readers. So, I'm expecting lighter fun.

Let's go see how horrible these villains truly are!

Baddies in Training
by Ryan Hammond
Simon & Schuster
Middle Grade Fantasy
255 pages
ages 8 to 12

Being BAD has never felt so GOOD! The first in a villainously funny, highly illustrated young middle-grade series from author-illustrator Ryan Hammond. For fans of Amelia FangDog Man and Grimwood. Don't miss the second installment, How to Steal a Dragon, out in October 2023, and the third installment, How to Win the Gruesome Games, out in April 2024!

‘Frightfully fun – Villains Academy had me cackling from the very first page!’ Katie Tsang, co-author of the Dragon Realm series
‘I loved the spookily funny Villains Academy. It's a work of (evil) genius!’ Jenny McLachlan, author of The Land of Roar

Welcome to Villains Academy – the most prestigious villain school in the ENTIRE land. You will either leave here as a fully-formed villain . . . or in tatters.

It's werewolf Bram’s first day at Villains Academy. He really doesn’t feel like a villain at all, but the coveted Villain of the Week trophy is up for grabs, and Bram knows he’ll have to dig deep. With the help of new friends Mona the elf-witch, Bryan the lion, Shelia the ghost and Tony the skeleton, can Bram find his inner badness and become the villain he's always dreamed of being?



If you think school is hard, you haven't seen the Villains Academy, yet.

It's Bram's first day at the Villains Academy, and he's ready to give his best...if he felt like a villain, but he doesn't. Bram isn't sure he has a villainous bone in his body, and the teachers are noticing that, too. Everything he does ends up as a fail, and the other students make fun of him as well. When the teacher declares a group project and divides everyone up, no one is thrilled to have Bram as a teammate. Then, the Furyflumps are stolen, and the teacher blames Bram...for no real reason! Soon Bram has two strikes against him. With the third, he'll be out. Somehow he has to find his inner-villain, or he'll end up back at home and have a lot of explaining to do.

This is a fun, school drama about bullying and not fitting in, but in a very different way. Bram is a werewolf, and his hopeful-villain classmates include everything from witches to lions to toads to ghosts and more. It's a very original mix, which lets imagination fly. There is magic, but only a smidgen since villains come in all types with a huge variety of talents. Instead, it's the competitive aspect with its problems, which drive this tale forward. It's entertaining to see what the teachers expect villains to learn. Not only does it bring in more humor, but the contradictions bring a little food for thought.

The book fits well to those readers, who are sure of their words but aren't quite ready for heavier reads. The text is presented in a larger font with larger spacing for easy reading. Every two-page spread holds an illustration, which not only breaks up the text but also adds to the story and atmosphere. The tale flows quickly as there are many surprises, sticky situations, and lots of humor woven in. And there are enough emotional snippets to add depth and let the characters shine.

At the very end, there's a how-to-sketch featuring the main character, which is a nice touch. But then, this is a lovely read, in general, and a solid launch to a new series, which promises tons of friendship, adventure and fun to come.

And here he is...

Ryan Hammond is an author, illustrator, and designer. He likes cute animals, quirky characters, and villainous traits. He currently lives in an unknown location in an extremely haunted house, surrounded by lots and lots of books. He’s the author and illustrator of the Villains Academy middle grade series. 

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