Colossal’s debut outing is a cheerful if unexceptional popcorn read.

RUTABAGA THE ADVENTURE CHEF

From the Rutabaga the Adventure Chief series , Vol. 1

In a land with dragons and other monsters, a happy-go-lucky chef can also be a hero.

Rutabaga is a chef on a journey to find the rarest, tastiest ingredients to use in his cooking. He’s a foodie Indiana Jones for the junior set: When he finds a legendary sword, he wants only the mushrooms growing on it, happily surrendering the sword itself to the next person who arrives. Though Rutabaga isn’t a warrior or wizard, his culinary expertise often comes in handy; for example, he’s able to deduce what food might nourish an ailing royal pet. Colossal’s full-color, cartoonish illustrations, with their heavy linework and simple figures, match the light, goofy tone of the stories. When Rutabaga gets cooking, Colossal exploits the graphic form to break down the action into numbered steps reminiscent of real cookbooks. The slapstick humor entertains but leaves little space for genuine character development, and the characters’ determinedly colloquial speech highlights the flimsiness of the faux medieval setting. Recipes scattered throughout allow kids to test their own cooking skills, at least on the ones with real-world ingredients. (Taste testers should be warned that one recipe features crushed cinnamon breath mints as an ingredient.)

Colossal’s debut outing is a cheerful if unexceptional popcorn read. (Graphic adventure. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1380-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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