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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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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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