THE MIGHTY 12

SUPERHEROES OF GREEK MYTH

Writing in hip-hop cadences and with a fine disregard for exact rhymes, Smith introduces a dozen Olympians, plus Cerberus and Medusa, in verses paired to melodramatic, superhero-style portraits inked and colored by veteran comics-artist Russell. Between an opening overview (“Playing people like pawns / in a grand game of chess / the gods of Olympus / infinitely test / assorted mortals / while testing each other, / like Hades, / Zeus, / and Poseidon, / true blood brothers . . . ”) and a closing Who’s Who that lists Special Powers and other attributes, readers will get some oblique references to various myths. However, more clearly the repeated message is that they’d better behave and pray that they never draw any immortal’s attention, amorous or otherwise. Discreetly positioned but at best scantily clad, the gods, from Zeus—posed in wrath like the God of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment—to half-mortal Dionysus, have never looked so ripped, nor the goddesses Artemis, Aphrodite, Athena and Hera (the “Queen of Mean”) so voluptuous. Still, an emphatic, beat-heavy read-aloud of the verses may provide the more memorable experience here for young audiences. (source list) (Mythology/poetry. 10-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-316-01043-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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NIM'S ISLAND

A child finds that being alone in a tiny tropical paradise has its ups and downs in this appealingly offbeat tale from the Australian author of Peeling the Onion (1999). Though her mother is long dead and her scientist father Jack has just sailed off on a quick expedition to gather plankton, Nim is anything but lonely on her small island home. Not only does she have constant companions in Selkie, a sea lion, and a marine iguana named Fred, but Chica, a green turtle, has just arrived for an annual egg-laying—and, through the solar-powered laptop, she has even made a new e-mail friend in famed adventure novelist Alex Rover. Then a string of mishaps darkens Nim’s sunny skies: her father loses rudder and dish antenna in a storm; a tourist ship that was involved in her mother’s death appears off the island’s reefs; and, running down a volcanic slope, Nim takes a nasty spill that leaves her feverish, with an infected knee. Though she lives halfway around the world and is in reality a decidedly unadventurous urbanite, Alex, short for “Alexandra,” sets off to the rescue, arriving in the midst of another storm that requires Nim and companions to rescue her. Once Jack brings his battered boat limping home, the stage is set for sunny days again. Plenty of comic, freely-sketched line drawings help to keep the tone light, and Nim, with her unusual associates and just-right mix of self-reliance and vulnerability, makes a character young readers won’t soon tire of. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81123-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY

From the Joey Pigza series , Vol. 1

If Rotten Ralph were a boy instead of a cat, he might be Joey, the hyperactive hero of Gantos's new book, except that Joey is never bad on purpose. In the first-person narration, it quickly becomes clear that he can't help himself; he's so wound up that he not only practically bounces off walls, he literally swallows his house key (which he wears on a string around his neck and which he pull back up, complete with souvenirs of the food he just ate). Gantos's straightforward view of what it's like to be Joey is so honest it hurts. Joey has been abandoned by his alcoholic father and, for a time, by his mother (who also drinks); his grandmother, just as hyperactive as he is, abuses Joey while he's in her care. One mishap after another leads Joey first from his regular classroom to special education classes and then to a special education school. With medication, counseling, and positive reinforcement, Joey calms down. Despite a lighthearted title and jacket painting, the story is simultaneously comic and horrific; Gantos takes readers right inside a human whirlwind where the ride is bumpy and often frightening, especially for Joey. But a river of compassion for the characters runs through the pages, not only for Joey but for his overextended mom and his usually patient, always worried (if only for their safety) teachers. Mature readers will find this harsh tale softened by unusual empathy and leavened by genuinely funny events. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-374-33664-4

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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