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

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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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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...

WAITING FOR THE BIBLIOBURRO

Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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A killer thriller.

THREE HOURS IN PARIS

Black takes time out from chronicling the neighborhood-themed exploits of half-French detective Aimée Leduc to introduce a heroine as American as apple pie.

Kate Rees never expected to see Paris again, especially not under these circumstances. Born and bred in rural Oregon, she earned a scholarship to the Sorbonne, where she met Dafydd, a handsome Welshman who stole her heart. The start of World War II finds the couple stationed in the Orkney Islands, where Kate impresses Alfred Stepney of the War Department with the rifle skills she developed helping her dad and five brothers protect the family’s cattle. After unimaginable tragedy strikes, Stepney recruits Kate for a mission that will allow her to channel her newly ignited rage against the Germans who’ve just invaded France. She’s parachuted into the countryside, where her fluent French should help her blend in. Landing in a field, she hops a milk train to Paris, where she plans to shoot Adolf Hitler as he stands on the steps of Sacre-Coeur. Instead, she kills his admiral and has to flee through the streets of Paris, struggling to hook up with the rescuers who are supposed to extract her. Meanwhile, Gunter Hoffman, a career policeman in a wartime assignment with the Reichssicherheitsdienst security forces, is charged with finding the assassin who dared attempt to kill the Führer. It’s hard to see how it can end well for both the cop and the cowgirl. The heroine’s flight is too episodic to capitalize on Black’s skill at character development, but she’s great at raising readers’ blood pressure.

A killer thriller.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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