From McLaren (Inside the Walls of Troy, 1996, etc.), a riveting page-turner that once again brings a feminine perspective to a classical adventure: Odysseus’s journey as seen by his wife, Penelope; the witch, Circe; the goddess, Athena; and a trusted family servant, Eurycleia. The unique first-person narrative revives Homer’s ancient tale, making it newly believable and enjoyable to read. The tale begins with the meeting of Penelope and Odysseus and Penelope’s forthright desire to have him for her husband. Helen’s vanity is apparent in this version, and Circe’s disdain of all mortal men—because of a bad marriage—is explained. The goddess Athena acts as Odysseus’s guide, mentor, and protector. In the end comes the realization that not only did Odysseus make a journey, but so did Penelope, managing an estate for 20 years, raising a son on her own, and serving unruly guests without complaint; her commitment to Odysseus is continually tested by his delayed return, but she regains control in the end when she tricks the ultimate trickster (Odysseus) with her own test regarding the removal of the olive tree bed. Full of such twists and turns, this book shines new light on mythic figures and their voyages, and may send voracious readers back to the original. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82875-6

Page Count: 149

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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In a well-written gambol through weirdness, Skinner (The Wrecker, 1995, etc.) offers four highly imaginative short stories about young people with supernatural powers. In the first story, Jenny can change the world, and change history, by changing the maps she draws. The narrator, Laurie, knows Jenny is out of control, and when Jenny creates a second sun and splits the earth in two, Laurie is ready to act. The second story is about a world where people “bop”—instant travel just by thinking of a location—instead of walking from one place to another. Mae, however, either can’t bop, or won’t, a prospect that intrigues the narrator. In the third tale, Meredith, who has a supernatural connection with the planet Pluto, and Dexter, who is able to spray-paint with his mind, unite their powers. In the fourth and longest story, Jake finds himself deeply in love with a religious girl, Louise, and both of them are tempted by the powers a metahuman, Nina, has bestowed upon them. All four stories will captivate readers, and may even get them thinking about deeper ideas. Skinner’s often humorous portrayal of young adolescents is on target, and while the stories resemble writing exercises, lacking the sustained, pulse-pounding poetic turns of his novels, they are consistently entertaining. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-80556-X

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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A variety of stories from Jones’some of which have appeared in other volumes in the US and/or the UK—have been newly gathered into this offering, certain to lure fans of the supernatural. The one entirely new story portrays Anne Smith, a girl in bed with mumps. To pass the time she dreams up “Enna Hittims,” a tiny out-of-control superheroine who attacks her own creator and ends up squashed. The other stories, products of a supremely quirky imagination, certainly deserve a new showing. In “The Sage of Theare,” a boy finds himself by stalking his own future. Jones tackles Greek myths in “The Girl Who Loved the Sun,” an exploration of a girl who decides to turn into a tree. In “What the Cat Told Me,” cat lovers will enjoy learning the history of a rather older-than-normal kitty who used her wiles to escape an evil magician. The remaining tales are “The Master,” “Dragon Reserve, Home Eight,” and the typographically-inspired “nad and Dan adn Quaffy.” Those who have a few of these stories collected elsewhere may balk at the purchase, but others will relish the stories. The intriguing introduction illuminates the author’s methodology, including a written admission that she finds ideas everywhere, even in typos. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16843-4

Page Count: 141

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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