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An enjoyable coming-of-age tale that’s also a next-level Space Camp adventure.

Awards & Accolades

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Five young astronauts join a two-year scientific research mission in this children’s SF novel.

Ten-year-old Kai of Hilo, Hawaii, is beyond thrilled that he’s going to be a real astronaut, like his hero Ellison Onizuka. He’s been chosen for a two-year NASA youth mission that will travel to the dwarf planet Ceres, where they’ll also get a good view of Mars. Four other kids will participate: Greg, 13, from Texas; 12-year-old Floridian twins Mary and David; and Keola, 11, from Southern California, with each youngster working on a special research project. Greg’s, for example, involves a time-travel mechanism, and Kai wants to test a device that could sense life-supporting elements and minerals on asteroids. In addition, Kai is bringing his cat, Cappy, to measure how weightlessness affects him, although he receives many warnings that the animal must stay inside his pod (spoiler: he doesn’t). While studying, testing, collecting, and reporting data for individual projects, the young astronauts must work as a team and with adults to address challenges that arise. It’s a learning experience in several ways, testing the kids’ maturity and intelligence. In the end, they earn Capt. Bowie’s praise and look forward to future adventures. Co-authors Jeffries, in her third children’s book, and Bob, in his debut, offer improbably accomplished young characters in this story, but it’s a fantasy that will appeal to any kid who dreams of space exploration. The book fairly vibrates with enthusiasm—and employs many exclamation points—but also takes science seriously, modeling teamwork and depicting realistic problems. A shuttle-door malfunction, for example, is diagnosed by examining a schematic that shows a weak connection—and requires a cool spacewalk to fix it. Rosenberg presents monochrome illustrations with lively compositions that capture the story’s fun.

An enjoyable coming-of-age tale that’s also a next-level Space Camp adventure.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2021


Page Count: -

Publisher: BWPublications

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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From the Yeti Files series , Vol. 1

Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse.

It’s a Bigfeet family reunion!

Everyone’s favorite frosty, furry cryptid, the yeti, actually has a name: Blizz Richards. From his supersecret HQ in Nepal he keeps in touch with his fellow cryptids, all of whom have sworn an oath to keep themselves hidden. That’s not always easy, especially when there are cryptozoologists, like the nasty (but bumbling) George Vanquist, who are always trying to expose the secretive creatures. Vanquist got a picture of Blizz’s cousin Brian near his home in British Columbia, causing the mortified Brian to disappear entirely. When Blizz receives an invitation to a Bigfeet family reunion in Canada, he calls his buddies Alexander (one of Santa’s elves), Gunthar (a goblin) and Frank the Arctic fox to help him get ready. When they arrive in Canada, Brian is still nowhere to be seen. Can Blizz and his skunk ape and other sasquatch cousins find Brian, have the reunion and evade Vanquist? If anyone can, the Bigfeet clan can. Illustrator Sherry’s first volume in the Yeti Files is a fast and funny graphic-prose tale full of labeled pictures and comic-style panels. Those just starting chapter books may have some trouble with a few big words, but they’ll enjoy the big friendly monsters and immediately ask for the next tale—which looks to be about the Loch Ness monster.

Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-55617-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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