Fluorescent outer space? The series continues to be a color scheme in search of an appropriate subject.

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BLAST OFF!

From the Fluorescent Pop! series

An extraterrestrial travels by rocket ship through a psychedelic universe.

The space creature, who wears a helmet through most of the book, enjoys a snack, marvels at a shooting star, and passes by a colorful array of planets. When this voyager arrives at what looks to be a space station, the text reads: “Where is everyone?” The page turn reveals a wild assortment of space creatures welcoming home the protagonist, who has now removed the helmet to show green skin, an orange nose, and bugle-shaped ears. Minimal text of one or two sentences per page captions each double-page scene. As with other titles in the Fluorescent Pop! series, the art is a dizzying explosion of color with Day-Glo oranges, intense yellows, radioactive greens, and hot pinks. While the planets and the shooting star are invitingly illustrated, the rocket's control room has so much going on with buttons, dials, screens, cords, and even a floating slice of pizza it proves a difficult image to read. A companion book, The Sweetest Treats, features more of the same brightly hued illustration style to catalog a variety of sugar-sweet treats. Those readers not concerned about the calorie count and the use of artificial coloring in these goodies may still find lime-green ice cream and fuchsia cupcakes less than appetizing.

Fluorescent outer space? The series continues to be a color scheme in search of an appropriate subject. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0221-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.

THE TOWER OF NERO

From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE SKELETON ROAD

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 6

The monster-fighting gang from Wakefield departs on a post-apocalyptic road trip.

In this sixth installment of the heavily illustrated, Netflix-adapted series, quirky Jack Sullivan and his friends June, Quint, and Dirk finally leave their creature-ridden town in search of the ultimate baddie, Thrull, who previously deceived them. The quartet takes their tricked-out ride (an armored RV named Bad Mama) onto the open road (with Jack’s Zombie Squad in tow) to find the Outpost, where they believe a certain monster will be able to give them the location of the evil Tower where they believe Thrull now resides. Of course, the journey is littered with all kinds of nightmarish beasts and pitfalls (including an epic water park battle and slime-dripping baby monster), but the kids persist, armed with their endless gadgets and quick thinking. As the group races toward Thrull, the action culminates with an achingly tantalizing cliffhanger; expect audible groans and vociferous demands for the next installment. Fans of this series will revel in this fast-paced escapade with its recognizable black-and-white illustrations and trademark humor. Readers new to the series or those who are only familiar with the animated show may be a bit put off by this later volume that relies heavily on its own language of monsters and weapons. Jack, June, and Dirk are light-skinned; Quint is dark-skinned.

Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger. (Graphic fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984835-34-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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