A beautiful world for patient readers to explore.

READ REVIEW

THE SPLINTERED LIGHT

Ishmael lives on a dry, barren farm in a drab, gray world.

One day, a strange beam of brilliant light breaks through the monotony. Ishmael’s never seen anything like it before—it seems to have a life of its own—and he can’t find the words to describe it. “Light span? Ribbon of brightness? Shiny flash?” When the light separates into seven disparate bands, it comes to him: “splintered light.” “It’s only light,” Mam says; she can’t see its uniqueness. The only person who might understand Ishmael’s curiosity and excitement is his older brother, Luc, who left home four years ago. Against Mam’s wishes, the 11-year-old travels to the Commons, the seat of creation, where reality is shaped. Finding Luc, who is training to be a color keeper, Ishmael discovers that splintered light is the color spectrum and not everyone can see it. When Ishmael accidentally prevents Luc from carrying out his dream, he tries to make things right, but nothing goes as it should. Johnson takes a familiar coming-of-age arc and wraps it in a gorgeously built world that asks readers to plumb the nature of creation. The book is divided into five parts, each beginning with an epigraph from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ ode to creation, “Pied Beauty,” but, like the intricate worldbuilding, the words may need multiple reads for total comprehension. Racial differences are hinted at in descriptions of hair texture and physiognomy, but within this world's limited palette, the book adheres to the white default.

A beautiful world for patient readers to explore. (Fantasy. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-623-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read...

ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY

From the Mr. Lemoncello's Library series , Vol. 1

When a lock-in becomes a reality game, 12-year-old Kyle Keeley and his friends use library resources to find their way out of Alexandriaville’s new public library.

The author of numerous mysteries for children and adults turns his hand to a puzzle adventure with great success. Starting with the premise that billionaire game-maker Luigi Lemoncello has donated a fortune to building a library in a town that went without for 12 years, Grabenstein cleverly uses the tools of board and video games—hints and tricks and escape hatches—to enhance this intricate and suspenseful story. Twelve 12-year-old winners of an essay contest get to be the first to see the new facility and, as a bonus, to play his new escape game. Lemoncello’s gratitude to the library of his childhood extends to providing a helpful holographic image of his 1968 librarian, but his modern version also includes changing video screens, touch-screen computers in the reading desks and an Electronic Learning Center as well as floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stretching up three stories. Although the characters, from gamer Kyle to schemer Charles Chiltington, are lightly developed, the benefits of pooling strengths to work together are clear.

Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read is a winner for readers and game-players alike. (Mystery. 9-13)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87089-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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