An auspicious beginning for a youthful sci-fi romp.

Supernova

BOOK ONE OF ECHOES OF A NEUTRON STAR

An outcast seventh-grade boy travels to another planet in Salinas’ debut novel.

Trevor was born during a supernova. Now 13, he’s an unpopular kid in Vasher Middle and High School; he’s small, awkward and has only one true friend. During a seventh-grade field trip, his school bus plummets 100 feet into a lake. Everyone escapes the wreck except Trevor, who seemingly spends a half-hour completely submerged in the freezing water. During this time, however, he’s transported to another planet. There, he meets a woman named Natalia and a mysterious figure named Alix who talk to him at length about the cosmos. Later, after Trevor washes ashore, he tries to share his strange story with a few classmates, who then torment him; even his good friend, AB, is dumbfounded and confused by his tale. As Trevor navigates a life of adolescent gossip, fights, crushes and cafeteria hijinks, two scientists, Novaldi and Wexler, work on a strange dream-extraction project that uses children as their subjects. Meanwhile, in a nearby junkyard, a metal monster mysteriously emerges from the rubble. It’s an imaginative, intriguing tale, but since this book is the first of a trilogy, it leaves many crucial questions unanswered. For example, why does Trevor have excruciating headaches, and how does he fit into the scientists’ goal of mapping out the entire universe? The next installment is apparently essential to understanding the story, and while this first chapter will certainly stoke readers’ imaginations, it’s incomplete, at best. It attempts to blend high school mishaps with sci-fi intrigue, but as a result, the scientific side of the story suffers. Some secondary characters, such as Alix and Natalia, remain underdeveloped, and their purpose in Trevor’s life remains a question mark. Overall, the story holds promise, but the next chapter is sorely needed.

An auspicious beginning for a youthful sci-fi romp.

Pub Date: April 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1470183196

Page Count: 209

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2013

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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