Gorilla Tactics is the second book in the Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions series written by Sheila Grau and illustrated by Joe Sutphin. This middle grade novel is just as good as the first, and I highly recommend reading the series in order, as the character development and relationships are important. However, if you feel the need to jump in now, I think there is enough hints to the backstory that you will still be able to enjoy this story.
Runt Higgins needs answers, fast. Someone cursed him to die on his sixteenth birthday, but no one seems to know who cursed him or why. Runt decides he must find the Great Library, where all true knowledge is hidden. Unfortunately, the only people who know the location of the Great Library are a covert network of librarian-spies who’d rather die than give up the Library’s secrets. And when one of Runt’s professors is attacked, it soon becomes clear that others are also out to find the Library at any cost. Meanwhile, Runt’s not the only one whose days are numbered. To save the floundering school from an inevitable sale, Dr. Critchlore takes some desperate measures. His master plan to save the school: a fashion show.
Gorilla Tactics is much more than the official summary gives it credit for. There are schemes and subterfuge at every turn, at multiple levels. Scheming teachers and administrators, bullies, teachers with an axe to grind, covert librarians, sirens and fashion shows, and so much more. I liked that Runt and his friends face the usual school issues; like bullies, popularity worries, and trying to pass important classes while still having to face bigger issues like the possibility of a school take over, death, and the most evil guy they can think of gaining access to the most complete library in the universe. Runt and his classmates all have some significant character growth, even the secondary characters like Rufus and Janet. I feel like even the most insignificant role in the larger story might come to be very important as the series continues on. There are problem solving, risk taking, and friendship struggles through out the story- and the action seems non stop. Even when Runt is contemplating his next move or how he is going to get through the current or next crisis the tension level is pretty high. I think that the combination of illustrations and high energy story telling will keep middle grade readers turning pages in this series. I liked that the book wrapped up the story nicely, while opening new questions to make us eager for the next book. It was a satisfying ending, with just a hint of "and then what".
Gorilla Tactics is a wonderful follow up to Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions, and I will be following this series as it continues. I am eager to see how Runt, and the rest progress through school, and beyond. I have many questions I want answered, and cannot wait to see how Grau answers them.