Adventure, inventiveness, and humor merge in this quirky, appealing tale.

AMELIA, THE MERBALLS AND THE EMERALD CANNON

From the Amelia's Amazing Space Adventures series , Vol. 3

A space-traveling girl continues gathering items to help save her alien friend’s sister in this third series outing.

In two previous children’s books, 8-year-old Amelia, a white girl with reddish hair, agreed to help Uglesnoo, a three-armed purple alien from Pluto, cure his ailing sister. A repelling crystal from Neptune will heal her, but that planet’s Queen Neep will barter it only in exchange for a long list of objects from around the solar system. Some the duo has already collected, like five boxes of dandelions from Earth. Next on the list: five pairs of flying shoes from Mercury, inhabited by Merballs. Hostile Venutons of Venus, the twosome’s last stop, try to prevent Amelia and Uglesnoo from trading with the Merballs (“Do not keep these criminals. Bring us the prisoners”). But the Merballs are basically friendly and don’t want trouble. They have problems of their own: They are suffering from asteroid strikes that create a sickening fog of dust, hospitalizing many. After another asteroid hit, Amelia and Uglesnoo come under suspicion and are briefly imprisoned. They fall into an old iron mine, from which they escape. Amelia develops a cunning plan to smash the asteroids with a cannon of her design, using raw materials from the mine. If she’s successful and a grateful Empress Ping rewards them with flying shoes, they’ll be one step closer to curing Uglesnoo’s sister—and maybe Amelia will have a chance to try out Mercury’s inviting slide transportation system. Blanchard (Amelia, the Venutons and the Golden Cage, 2016, etc.) writes a fast-paced tale with a young heroine who’s a quick thinker. Designing and crafting the cannon shows Amelia’s ingenuity and reflects the current interest in maker culture. There’s also plenty of silly fun, such as the green slime floor in the prison cell that almost engulfs Amelia and Uglesnoo, as well as cool tech, like the Plutonian’s multifunctional bed, which plays a role in their escape. Palmisano’s (An Amazing Circus of Phonograms, 2017) illustrations are colorful and three-dimensional, the mix of Earth and alien characters having a family resemblance in their googly eyes.

Adventure, inventiveness, and humor merge in this quirky, appealing tale.

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-981496-11-2

Page Count: 70

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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