A creative, if somewhat underdeveloped, adventure.

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CLOUDSCAPE

MATILDA'S STORY

An intuitive young heroine visits the world of Cloudscape in this middle-grade prequel.

Matilda, a girl from Vietnam adopted by an American family, has a special gift. Whenever there is danger lurking, she is alerted in the form of a stomachache. These premonitions can be extremely valuable, as when she saves a friend from a venomous snake. But sometimes the aches seem to have no source, as when Matilda is practicing jumps with her beloved horse, Merry. When her family visits Oregon’s Rose Festival, Matilda ignores her misgiving about riding the Ferris wheel—a decision that turns into a calamity after her seat belt snaps at the top of the ride. The next thing Matilda knows, she has awakened in an unfamiliar world. A kindly woman named Mrs. O’Carolan explains that she was rescued from her fall by the residents of Cloudscape, a fantastical community floating more than 6,000 feet above the ground. During her first day, Matilda is introduced to a young girl named Kiara, who was rescued from the same carnival ride. The two begin the assimilation process and soon settle into a routine on Cloudscape, where rescued individuals from all over the globe study weather patterns, collect useful items from passing airplanes, and craft cloud formations for the people below. But unlike the residents who appear resigned to remaining in the clouds, Matilda and Kiara harbor a desire to return to their families and lives on Earth. In this prequel to Cloudscape: Charlie’s Story (2016), Courtney’s choice of language is simple yet effective in her illustration of the world, which is imaginative and full of whimsical details. Unfortunately, the lack of clarity concerning certain elements tests suspension of disbelief. For instance, it is never quite clear why Cloudscape’s incredible technologies stop short of being able to return people home. Additionally, the lack of urgency surrounding the central conflict causes the narrative to rely on episodic, quickly resolved dangers for excitement. On the other hand, the authenticity of Matilda’s feelings (dutifully recorded in her journal) is a winning quality.

A creative, if somewhat underdeveloped, adventure.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9967059-5-0

Page Count: 189

Publisher: JN Courtney Publications

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

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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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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