CAN OF WORMS

A misfit seventh grader’s half-serious conviction that he’s an alien proves well-founded in this wild, slime-and-monster-filled romp from Mackel (A Season Of Comebacks, 1997). The tales Mike spins to a rapt audience of younger neighbors, about hideous reptilian invaders called Jongs, come home to roost when, after a horribly embarrassing computer prank, he constructs a powerful transmitter out of household electronics and beams a plea for help into the night sky. Suddenly, he’s besieged by nonhuman “rescuers,” from a sluglike Bom, eager to open a raft of personal injury suits on Mike’s behalf, to Barnabus, an entity-rights worker from (where else?) Sirius. Thinking better of his original impulse, Mike fends them off until, to his dismay and elation, an actual Jong swoops down, intending to add him and any other convenient beings to its personal zoo. Mike contrives to defeat the Jong and release its menagerie, setting the stage for an unforgettable Halloween parade through town. In the end, despite proof that his stories are actually suppressed memories, Mike elects to stay on Earth with family and friends. Fans of such escapades as Gene De Weese’s Black Suits from Outer Space (1989), Jonathan Etra and Stephanie Spinner’s Aliens For Breakfast (1988) and Mel Gilden’s Pumpkins of Time (1994) will welcome this with open arms, tentacles, and pseudopods. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-380-97681-1

Page Count: 146

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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IF THAT BREATHES FIRE, WE'RE TOAST!

Tucson gives a young San Diegan a warm welcome in more ways than one in this relaxed, readable debut. Rick Morales isn’t all that happy to be moving with his mother, Sylvia, to another state, but meeting Natalie, a friendly girl, and Madam [sic] Yang, a collie-sized, 500-year-old dragon, soon puts him into better spirits. Madam Yang does not grant wishes (“Do I look like a genie? You’ve been mythinformed”), but does breathe fire, and volunteers to transport Rick, Natalie, and her little brother, Ben, into magical adventures. Weaving in a budding romance between Sylvia and a local veterinarian, Stewart decorates the plot with comic set pieces, such as an ugly pet contest and a nearly disastrous encounter between Madam Yang and Nat’s deliciously princess-like cousin Olivia. Although everyone tends to take Madam Yang so much in stride that she seems more an exotic pet than an Event, the likable cast and tongue-in-cheek humor will keep readers turning the pages. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1430-2

Page Count: 117

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME

Scieszka and Lane’s intrepid heroes of The Time Warp Trio are once again up to their necks in very silly historical circumstances. Joe, Fred, and Sam are horsing around during their school play—which they wrote themselves—about the ancient deities of Greece. When a cardboard thunderbolt accidently hits the magic blue book stashed in Joe’s backpack, the three boys are transported back to ancient Greece—or so they think. When they meet some of the wisecracking gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus, they realize they’ve been transported to the fictionalized Greece of their play, complete with dialogue they wrote using “The Book of Snappy Insults.” While flinging around backhanded compliments with Hera (who’s not bad on the uptake), the three time travelers try to locate their blue book of magic so they can return home. Instead, they end up as that night’s entertainment for the gods. The opening jokes fall flat, but then Joe comes up with some last-minute parlor tricks. Just when everything’s going well, a pack of Greek monsters arrives, and the mountain top threatens to become a battlefield. The wordplay is still fast and funny, and fans of the series will not mind that the deities have become sort of stock types; the abundance of goofy Groucho Marx-style zingers will keep everyone else smiling. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-670-88596-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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