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PEOPLE OF THE SUN

THE EYE OF RA: BOOK 3

From the The Eye of Ra series

An SF–infused tale that proves both entertaining and educational.

Awards & Accolades

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Time-traveling siblings race to save the world’s future by restoring historical events in this third installment of a middle-grade fantasy series.

After discovering the eye of Ra, Sarah and her younger brother, John, traveled through time and space to ancient lands. They embarked on adventures and saved the planet, so now they can be typical kids in California—if their mom scores a teaching gig there. But apparently there’s more for the siblings to do. Two aging, time-traveling strangers show up and ask for their help. In 2049, a solar flare interrupts a demonstration of a time-slowing device. This catastrophic event not only wipes out the future beyond 2049, but also transports people at the demonstration into the past. Toci, a woman in early-16th-century Mexico, plans to lead the Aztecs in defeating Cortés before he slaughters them. Sadly, this tragedy must occur, as it’s a consequential part of history’s “story lines.” Sarah and John travel back in time to stop Toci, but this smart and resourceful Aztec scholar has already anticipated innovative adversaries and is determined to take down Cortés. Gartner wisely simplifies his briskly paced tale, which zeroes in on a single “mission.” Along with lessening potential time-traveling complications, the move paves the way for additional quests in future volumes. This book is primed for younger readers, highlighting real-life customs and places as well as the Aztecs’ Nahuatl language (with helpful phonetic spellings trailing certain words). The author, meanwhile, paints a sublime portrait of old Mexico and its people: “Canoes drifted on canals like the pictures he’d seen of Venice in Italy….Farther out into the lake, men cast nets and brought up flopping silver fish, their scales sparkling in the sun.” As in earlier installments, the author includes a recipe—xocolatl, a spicy, nonsweet hot chocolate Toci deems an “acquired taste.”

An SF–infused tale that proves both entertaining and educational.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-73415-527-3

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Crescent Vista Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2021

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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THE ONE AND ONLY FAMILY

From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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