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Illustrated by Colin Jack



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About The Book

Buck discovers that his favorite book series might be less fictional than he thought in this “silly, clever, [and] fun” (BCCB) middle grade adventure.

Harry Potter. Percy Jackson. Custard the Gnome.

Buck is a super fan of the book series, The Triumphant Gnome Syndicate. He knows all the trivia. The properties of the Troll Vanquishing Mace, and even what kind of snack Custard, the Gnome of the West, prefers. But when the book’s author disappears in a cloud of smoke, and Buck’s little sister disappears into a bottomless dumpster, Buck realizes that the world of gnomes and trolls might really exist. What the heck?

As it turns out, the real Custard needs Buck’s help to find the Troll Vanquishing Mace. And Buck needs to find his sister. So Buck and his best friend Lizzie set off on an adventure that would make any fan’s head spin. But it seems the books did not tell the whole truth about this not-so-make-believe world. Buck soon discovers that real life doesn’t work like a story, and the heroes and villains might not be who they seem. Holy trolls! What’s a super fan to do?

Buck is about to fulfill the ultimate fantasy: going on adventures with his favorite characters, and getting the chance to save the world. Assuming he can figure out whose side he’s really on.



Lizzie is glowing. And when I say that, I don’t mean her cheeks are rosy and her skin is dewy and all that junk, I mean she’s actually glowing. Her lips are splattered with the guts of a green glow bracelet, and there are glowing streaks of purple and pink and green on her teeth, on her cheeks, in her hair, and inside her ears. It looks like a unicorn threw up on her face. Which is exactly what I tell her.

“Even with unicorn barf on me, I look better than you do. What were you thinking, Buck?” She pokes my cheek with her finger and makes her badger face. It’s the one where she scrunches up her nose so that her front two teeth stick out in obvious disgust. I swat away her finger. She’s totally ruining my makeup.

About The Author

Photograph by Sarah Bork Photography

Kari Anne Holt is the author of Gnome-a-geddon, which received a starred review from Booklist, and Red Moon Rising, which Booklist said “will lasso readers and have them hoping for a sequel.” She has also written several middle grade novels in verse including Rhyme Schemer and Brains for Lunch, which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and was highlighted on the Texas Library Association’s Annotated Lone Star Reading List, and Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel, a nominee for the Connecticut Library Association Nutmeg Book Award and the Maud Hart Lovelace Award. Kari has recently contributed to the anthology, Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters To Their Teen Selves. Learn more about her at

About The Illustrator

Colin Jack is originally from Vancouver, Canada, and has illustrated several children’s books. He currently works at DreamWorks Animation as a story artist and character designer and lives in the Bay Area with his wife and two sons.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (May 2, 2017)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781481478458
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12
  • Lexile ® 670L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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Raves and Reviews

Fans of fantasy series will feel the pain of main character Buck and his best friend Lizzie as they impatiently wait on a very long line for the midnight release of the third book in the “Triumphant Gnome Syndicate” series. When the series’s author surprises fans by first showing up at the event and then mysteriously disappearing into a cloud of smoke, Buck realizes that something odd is afoot. His little sister Willy is also a huge fan and, like most little siblings, annoys her big brother by wanting to be involved in everything he is doing—including trying to solve the disappearance of author Harold Macinaw. The plot thickens when Lizzie starts to act strangely and Willy also disappears. As Buck and Lizzie struggle to figure out what’s going on, they meet an intriguing little man, who explains that Macinaw has been kidnapped and they must help rescue him. So begins this fast and action-packed story that brings the heroes to Gnomeland on a quest to find the Troll Vanquishing Mace and save Willy and Macinaw. Middle grade readers will be eager to learn more about the Troll Vanquishing Mace and solve the mystery. Fans of Angie Sage’s “Magyk,” J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” and C.S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia” should enjoy this and what are sure to be subsequent titles involving the plethora of characters introduced here. VERDICT Likely to prompt lively discussions on the true meaning of heroism. Recommended for libraries where fantasy featuring magical creatures is in demand

– School Library Journal

"Buck survives to show emotional resilience, as well as an ability to learn from his mistakes, and Holt leaves him, along with readers, eager for a sequel."


"Fans of Angie Sage’s “Magyk,” J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” and C.S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia” should enjoy this and what are sure to be subsequent titles involving the plethora of characters introduced here."

– School Library Journal

"This is silly, clever fun for fantasy buffs, and a sequel could be even better."


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