Roman’s quirks may irritate a few readers, but many children will run to their own scratch pads to draw fierce bunnies,...

READ REVIEW

ASTRONAUT ACADEMY

ZERO GRAVITY

From the Astronaut Academy series , Vol. 1

This book will make readers want to flip through the author’s doodle pad, in case he has ideas that are even wilder.

Dinosaurs show up early in the book. They’re in outer space. They come with wheels, so students at Astronaut Academy can race them. The school also has a time-traveling panda and a league of villains in footy pajamas. There is a plot here—something about a student being chased by his robot double—but Roman is more interested in playing with language than anything else. He uses intentionally awkward syntax (“ATTACKING is something frowned upon by people because someone may get hurt in the process”) and made-up spelling: At one point he even uses “bee” as a verb, as in “To bee or not to bee.” Some readers may be looking for a more focused plot—the author seems just to be finding his footing in the early chapters—but it’s hard not to like a school where Wearing Cute Hats is on the lesson plan. Fans of Harry Potter or Archie comics might appreciate the romances among the students. As in those series, the couples don’t get together in the first volume, but there are talking bunnies to see in the meantime. Some of them know karate chops.

Roman’s quirks may irritate a few readers, but many children will run to their own scratch pads to draw fierce bunnies, wearing cute hats. (Graphic novel. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59643-620-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.

THE TOWER OF NERO

From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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