An imaginative work featuring intriguingly weird art that lives up the creator’s desire for “wonder and whimsy.”

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THE IMPOSSIBLE WINTERBOURNE PRESENTS...THE ALPHABOTS

A debut, sepia-toned alphabet book from steampunk street artist The Impossible Winterbourne, designed to please both adults and young readers.

This book takes a surreal tone from the start, as the author welcomes readers to Winterbourne Workshop—which is also the name of his real-world art shop. An alphabet follows, featuring strange and frequently wonderful robots. On each two-page spread, a letter, printed in an old-fashioned typewriter typeface, is framed and placed against a muted, tapestrylike background. Below it is a description of a robot whose name begins with the same letter, illustrated in mixed-media on the facing page. Some of the best examples include the AquaBot, an underwater automaton who wears an old-fashioned diving helmet; the EcoBot, who’s made from sticks and has a tree growing from its head; and the IdeaBot, whose head is an old-fashioned lightbulb. Each one’s design has a steampunk flair, but some are eerier than others and might be off-putting to sensitive young readers; the GhostBot, for example, has rusted chains and a sad expression, and the ZombiBot is suitably grotesque with frayed wires and an exposed brain. The poetry scans well throughout, and the rhymes create a nice read-aloud cadence. VoodooBot, however, is an unfortunate misstep that reinforces negative stereotypes of that religion. For the most part, though, this is an inventive book that’s similar in tone and content to Neil Gaiman’s The Dangerous Alphabet or Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies.

An imaginative work featuring intriguingly weird art that lives up the creator’s desire for “wonder and whimsy.”

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-74378-2

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

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Touching, riotously funny, and absolutely stunning.

ARU SHAH AND THE TREE OF WISHES

From the Pandava Quintet series , Vol. 3

In the third instalment of the Pandava Quartet, 14-year-old Arundhati “Aru” Shah and her companions need to defeat their archnemesis (and Aru’s father), the Sleeper, and prevent the impending war between the devas and asuras.

The novel opens with Aru and her friends on a mission to rescue two people from the Sleeper’s soldiers. The two people are 10-year-old identical twins and Pandavas Nikita and Sheela, trapped atop a Ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta. This mission is of utmost importance because Sheela is a clairvoyant with an important prophecy, which speaks of the rise of the Sleeper and an untrue Pandava sister—and which the Sleeper must not hear at any cost. Despite their best efforts, however, one of the Sleeper’s soldiers overhears the prophecy, and Aru, Mini, Brynne, and Adin—accompanied by Rudy, a serpent prince—set off to find the missing Kalpavriksha, a wish-granting tree, so that they might wish upon it to set things right. Much like its predecessors, this fast-moving adventure draws on Hindu cosmology and South Asian pop-culture references to create an enchanting but believable magical Otherworld, where gods, demigods, demons, and talking animals abound. Chokshi’s novel is pitch perfect: The plot is action-packed, the dialogue witty, and the characters (almost all of whom are either Indian or part-Indian) are compelling, diverse, and complex.

Touching, riotously funny, and absolutely stunning. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-01385-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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