POTIONS & PARAMETERS

From the Secret Coders series , Vol. 5

While the coding instruction’s as top-notch as ever, in this installment it’s interpersonal dynamics and characters that,...

After Robots & Repeats (2017) the heroes code their way into and out of the villainous Dr. One-Zero’s clutches.

After Josh takes point in coding an escape from the vicious ducks with teeth, the coders find Hopper’s father—but unfortunately, he and the other captives have been fed the mind-wiping Green Pop. Even worse, Dr. One-Zero steals Light-Light. They’re trapped with bottles of the Green Pop when Josh finds a hint for the lock’s passcode (interrupting Eni’s earnestly awkward romantic confession to Hopper). The resulting binary-to-ASCII puzzle makes good use of graphics for a quick, crystal clear recap on binary. Liberated, the three kids face pressures—Hopper’s mother wants them to leave town; Eni’s threatened with transfer if his sisters catch him with his friend; Josh feels like a third wheel in the friendship—but only they, and Professor Bee, can stop One-Zero’s latest diabolical scheme. Bee also reveals the truth behind his noselessness in a wild surprise crossover with Edwin Abbott’s Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884). The cliffhanger sees the multiracial trio on the verge of coding a portal into Flatland, and it’s followed by a comedic short that uses coded repeats to find Josh’s dog.

While the coding instruction’s as top-notch as ever, in this installment it’s interpersonal dynamics and characters that, satisfyingly, take center stage. (Graphic science fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-608-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

BAMBOO PEOPLE

Well-educated American boys from privileged families have abundant options for college and career. For Chiko, their Burmese counterpart, there are no good choices. There is never enough to eat, and his family lives in constant fear of the military regime that has imprisoned Chiko’s physician father. Soon Chiko is commandeered by the army, trained to hunt down members of the Karenni ethnic minority. Tai, another “recruit,” uses his streetwise survival skills to help them both survive. Meanwhile, Tu Reh, a Karenni youth whose village was torched by the Burmese Army, has been chosen for his first military mission in his people’s resistance movement. How the boys meet and what comes of it is the crux of this multi-voiced novel. While Perkins doesn’t sugarcoat her subject—coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society—this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest. It answers the question, “What is it like to be a child soldier?” clearly, but with hope. (author’s note, historical note) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58089-328-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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