IN THE KAISER'S CLUTCH

Karr (The Cave, 1994, etc.) chooses the silent film studios during WW I as a backdrop for twin adolescent film stars Fitzhugh and Nelly Dalton's discovery of a ring of German sympathizers. Although their father's suspicious death in the explosion of a munitions dump has forced the twins and their mother to move out of Manhattan, things are looking up for the scrappy family. Fitzhugh and Nelly will star in a new film serial, In the Kaiser's Clutch, written and sold to the studio by their mother. The twins eventually uncover their leading man as the brains behind a secret German bomb factory. By juxtaposing plot summaries of each serial installment at the opening of every chapter and then describing all the hard work that goes into the segments, Karr accurately recreates the early film industry, and those who can give themselves up wholeheartedly to some of the campier aspects of this will have a ball. The plot is stuffed with cornball jokes, wooden dialogue, and clichÇd happy family scenes; the German characters are reduced to thick-accented, shifty-eyed, bravado-spouting villains, and the novel ultimately becomes as jingoistic as the fictional serial at its core. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 1995

ISBN: 0-374-33638-5

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity.

FUTUREDAZE

AN ANTHOLOGY OF YA SCIENCE FICTION

A low-wattage collection of original stories and poems, as unmemorable as it is unappealingly titled.

The collection was inspired by a perceived paucity of short science fiction for teen readers, and its production costs were covered by a Kickstarter campaign. The editors gather a dozen poems and 21 stories from a stable of contributors who, after headliners Jack McDevitt and Nancy Holder, will be largely unknown even to widely read fans of the genre. The tales place their characters aboard spacecraft or space stations, on other worlds or in future dystopias, but only rarely do the writers capture a credibly adolescent voice or sensibility. Standouts in this department are the Heinlein-esque “The Stars Beneath Our Feet,” by Stephen D. Covey & Sandra McDonald, about a first date/joyride in space gone wrong, and Camille Alexa’s portrait of a teen traumatized by a cyberspace assault (“Over It”). Along with a few attempts to craft futuristic slang, only Lavie Tidhar’s fragmentary tale of Tel Aviv invaded by successive waves of aliens, doppelgangers, zombies and carnivorous plants (“The Myriad Dangers”) effectively lightens the overall earnest tone. Aside from fictional aliens and modified humans, occasional references to dark skin (“Out of the Silent Sea,” Dale Lucas) are the only signs of ethnic diversity. Most of the free-verse poetry makes only oblique, at best, references to science-fictional themes.

A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity. (author bios) (Science fiction/short stories. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9847824-0-8

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Underwords

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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A BUSY DAY AT THE GARAGE

A rural, pleasantly ramshackle garage is the setting for this lively book. Each spread features the station and its forecourt, with a flurry of activity accompanying each turn of the page: The garage opens up for the day; a bashed-in car arrives; a brief squall soaks a lady, her swain, and their tony convertible. Over it all presides Mr. Fingers, a harmlessly gangsterish type in striped trousers and white jacket. Dupasquier (Andy's Pirate Ship, 1994, etc.) keeps the text quick, simple, and hand-in-glove with the illustrations (``Mick and Mack start to work on Mr. Walker's car. Pete serves the first customer''). These watercolors are equally nimble, deliberately cartoonish in the linework and saturated colors. The front and rear flap covers fold out with an array of questions and puzzles pertaining to the story. Bright, boisterous, fun; for children who take to the format, there are two companion volumes: A Busy Day at the Airport (ISBN 1-56402-591-8) and A Busy Day at the Building Site (592-6). (Picture book. 4+)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-56402-590-X

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1995

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