A fast-paced, funny, and satisfying space tale, with a warm family feeling.

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GEORGE AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT

When aliens kidnap a boy, his older brother, his grandmother, and her spaceship come to the rescue in this middle-grade SF novel.

People have been thinking that Grandma Mullin is crazy ever since, a few months ago, she claimed that aliens yanked her husband into their spaceship through a beam of light. He hasn’t been seen since. Nevertheless, while their parents take a cruise, George Mullin, 11, and his younger brother, Pete, are being sent to their grandmother’s house, flying from California to Colorado. Grandma wins over her grandsons with root beer floats, new high-tops, and July Fourth bottle rockets—and then, the aliens come back to abduct Pete. Grandma reveals that she’s not crazy; she’s an alien hunter with her own spaceship hidden in the backyard, which takes her and George to the extraterrestrials’ home, Planet Flerk. In a crash landing, Grandma breaks her leg, and George has to set out alone with nothing but a tracking device, a slingshot, and a lighter. He faces many dangers, including murderous dwarves and pirates, but gains allies, such as Rover, a talking Labrador dog/hippo; and Slim, a cabin boy aboard the pirates’ spaceship. As George performs more than one rescue, he figures out his future profession: “Kicking some alien butt” is “what we Mullins do.” Trine (The Revenge of the McNasty Brothers, 2015, etc.), a prolific author of children’s books, writes a very entertaining space adventure/coming-of-age tale. George’s road to realizing his destiny parallels his newfound appreciation of his grandparents, both former test pilots, and their daring spirits. The book also succeeds as a comic novel, with many amusing scenarios. For example, in Flerk’s rather tentative police force, one cop responds to a hovercraft theft by yelling polite requests for its return: “Do the right thing! I mean it!” Trine packs a lot of action and a few surprises into his story, keeping things effectively moving, with a pleasing conclusion that leaves open the possibility of further escapades. Koehler’s (Santa’s Dog, 2018, etc.) quirky, cool, stylish illustrations deftly match the text.

A fast-paced, funny, and satisfying space tale, with a warm family feeling.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73395-895-0

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Malamute Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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