An uplifting tale about empathy and courage.

READ REVIEW

THE AMAZINGLY AWESOME AMANI

An African-American boy with a great imagination becomes a superhero in this picture book.

Amani loves to read—especially comics about Amazing Man. He doesn’t talk much, though, and kids at school gossip about him. At bedtime, his mom gives him a pep talk, saying that he’s “a very special boy.” Later, Amani wakes to hear a bully stealing a soccer ball from a smaller kid outside. He puts on a superhero outfit and becomes “AWESOME AMANI.” Using his sister Sandy’s jump rope, he climbs out his window, trips up the bully with another ball, and returns the soccer ball to its owner. Amani hears his mom calling, but he’s horrified to see Sandy dangling the jump rope out of reach. Then Amani wakes up with a shout. His parents rush in; his dad says, “that must have been some dream,” and Amani says it was “awesome.” Samuels and Samuels (Pass the Torch, 2016) dedicate their book to those who assist children with autism and learning challenges. Its ending feels slightly clichéd, but youngsters will find Amani’s vivid imagination and dream life relatable. The book also effectively depicts the impact of loving, supportive parents. Nidhom’s (Cathy, the Cow Who Couldn’t Moo, 2017, etc.) charming illustrations add bold dimension and character to the story.

An uplifting tale about empathy and courage.

Pub Date: April 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68401-610-5

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2018

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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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