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A somewhat predictable tale enlivened by vivid emotions.

An autistic girl must rescue her family after alien monsters crash to Earth.

Fourteen-year-old Isadora Wilder is enjoying a cozy evening with her grandparents and Maple, her beloved little sister, when suddenly, eerie lights beam down from the sky and her family inexplicably vanishes. Only Izzy and her loyal dog, Akka, remain. But she’s not alone; vicious monsters have landed in Vermont, intent on destroying Earth. Though autism and anxiety make it difficult for Izzy to process loud noises and other stimuli, she’s determined to find her family. She receives unexpected aid via mementos of her mother, who died of cancer a year before and who, like Izzy, had depression: A journal filled with cryptic clues and a CD of strangely pertinent songs map the way to her family’s possible location—but what else will Izzy find there? Her mother’s presence persists as Izzy battles monsters and navigates a desolate landscape. Along the way, she befriends fellow survivor Raven Barradell, an asthmatic gender-nonconforming boy who is also bisexual and has anxiety. But when Izzy makes a devastating discovery, her resolve threatens to crumble, endangering them both. Readers may connect the dots well before Izzy, and the frequent assistance of her mother’s spirit, though comforting, slightly dampens the suspense. However, Reynolds poignantly explores the complexities of depression and grief. Raven has tan skin and black hair; Izzy and her family default to White.

A somewhat predictable tale enlivened by vivid emotions. (author’s note) (Science fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-358-46777-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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