Mars needs milk in this tongue-in-cheek, slam-bang bit of YA escapism that’s best for members of the PlayStation-playing...

AOLEON THE MARTIAN GIRL

In LeVasseur’s debut middle-grade sci-fi novel, a friendly extraterrestrial girl whisks a Nebraska farm boy away for a wild adventure of Martian intrigue, rebellion and invasion.

Some of the earliest sci-fi stories for juveniles told tales of adolescent boys on flights to Mars, and now, more than a century later, that tradition continues in this illustrated yarn. Gilbert Sullivan is a boy on the lookout for whatever has been making crop circles in his family’s fields. One day, he’s suddenly spirited away to Mars by a carefree alien, who’s piloting an advanced flying saucer. The blue-skinned Aoleon and her people are from the Andromeda constellation. Their current home on Mars, in a concealed “bubbleverse” slightly out of phase with Earth, is an ancient refugee colony that was established during an interstellar war with the fiendish, reptilian Draconians. Disguising Gilbert as a fellow Martian, Aoleon takes him on a tour of the Martian megalopolis and even enrolls him as a student in the Martian Space Academy, where he meets numerous alien species. There, the Earth boy develops his latent psi talents and plays a very Quidditch-like game of “psiball” while he’s at it. But all is not well on the red planet: Its longtime democratic government has been taken over by an absolute dictator called the Luminon, who, unsurprisingly, is really a Draconian in disguise. Manipulating the Martian public’s dependence on milk, the Luminon attempts to launch an invasion of America’s beef- and dairy-farm country—that is, until the meddling Gilbert, Aoleon and some of their dissident allies go into action against him. There’s plenty of action in this lengthy narrative; its latter half plays like one video game boss-battle after another, as the heroes prevail again and again over evil foes due to their own superpowers or lucky last-minute rescues by others. The video game comparison is particularly apt in view of the author’s extensive 3-D illustrations, which visualize the cool alien environments and technology quite nicely. However, the humans and Martians look more like denizens of a sub-Pixar CGI cartoon, such as Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius or Planet 51. Along the way, the author also embeds numerous references to Stanley Kubrick films and real-life UFO/conspiracy theories.

Mars needs milk in this tongue-in-cheek, slam-bang bit of YA escapism that’s best for members of the PlayStation-playing generation.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9791285-0-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: Aoléon Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2014

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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