Two young computer gamers experience some all-too-realistic on-line effects in this irreverent series opener. Tired of being “killed” every 20 minutes playing “Gopher,” Jessica takes her friend Matthew’s advice and logs on to a new web game dubbed “Medieval Madness.” Suddenly she and Matthew are actually in the game, squired through a medieval forest by Dennis, a surfer-dude centaur who shows them the ropes, gives Matthew a magic wand (“ ‘Got it on my last job. I rode around with Harry, this English kid. I forget his last name: Trotter, Rotter. Something like that . . . Bit of a noo-noo, if you know what I mean.’ ”), and sends the young folk racing off to visit Heaven (“ ‘Hey! That looks like Elvis!’ ”), the Other Place (which turns out to be a shopping mall), a dungeon, and finally the Chamber of Secrets, where Merlin the Magician’s evil clone Merlon lurks, plotting to take over the real world by turning it into a global consumer economy. Intrepidly challenging Merlon to a round of “Gopher,” Jessica not only racks up a monumental score, but hacks into her opponent’s character files and dumps them into the Trash. Goodbye bad guy. Shelly adds an occasional lighthearted illustration. Steering clear of both jargon and explicit gore, Kimmel dishes up a fast-paced caper that even clueless adults will enjoy. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-46656-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000


Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000


PLB 0-531-33140-7 Ketcham’s first book is based on an allegedly true story of a childhood incident in the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. It starts with a couple of pages regaling the Bach home and all the Johanns in the family, who made their fame through music. After his father’s death, Johann Sebastian goes to live with his brother, Johann Christoph, where he boasts that he is the best organist in the world. Johann Christoph contradicts him: “Old Adam Reincken is the best.” So Johann Sebastian sets out to hear the master himself. In fact, he is humbled to tears, but there is hope that he will be the world’s best organist one day. Johann Sebastian emerges as little more than a brat, Reincken as more of a suggestion than a character. Bush’s illustrations are most transporting when offering details of the landscape, but his protagonist is too impish to give the story much authority. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-531-30140-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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