A humorous and heartfelt sci-fi tale.


Zany boarding school romps dominate in Kruk’s futuristic middle-grade debut novel about friendship and bravery.

Leo Gray’s family members, who live in Riverdale, New York, in 2113, love the technology of the past, but their old-tech ways cause his schoolmates to tease him: “No one else’s parents that he knew of used a dishwasher, vacuum, or sewing machine.” Still, their steampunk-ish style doesn’t stop Leo from embracing modern science and dreaming of a more up-to-date way of life. He competes to win a trip to the Lunar Academy, a new utopian school in Luna City on the moon. Various obstacles interfere—including his father’s disapproval of the idea—but Leo finally gets to the moon, where he discovers that he can make good friends and pursue a future in science. He meets the smart and athletic Andromeda Groves, her cousin Pavo Digbi, and the loud but cowardly Gruswaldious Pinwheel, but he also must deal with his longtime, privileged nemesis, Gavin Jones. The story gets much of its spark from its bright, exaggerated characters and amusing, glitzy technology, which includes such imaginative items as “robo-kittens” and “electro-paper,” without dawdling over technological specifications. The book is definitely a page-turner; indeed, Leo progresses through his first year at Lunar Academy almost too quickly, with entire weeks, and even months, compressed into short paragraphs. This keeps the emphasis on the action, but it sacrifices opportunities for further character development. When a clear and very dangerous threat to Earth and the moon is revealed, the friends work well together as they attempt daring rescues and confrontations. The quick, witty dialogue will entertain young readers; for instance, when Leo wears his favorite outfit to a physically demanding new job, his new boss grins and says, “Good thing you wore some ugly clothes!”

A humorous and heartfelt sci-fi tale.

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62634-584-3

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2019

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In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.


A fan of magic and her reluctant companion embark on an adventure when the mysterious Blue Man charges them with a mission.

Little Katherine contemplates what exists behind the scrim of the sky, and she gets her answer after she meets a boy named Charlie, who literally runs into her upon fleeing a blue man and a talking salamander he encounters in the nearby forest. The man is non-threatening, and asks the two to help him recover some lost items, to which Katherine heartily agrees. He doesn’t provide much information, however, so once she and Charlie enter this enchanted universe, they must take it upon themselves to figure out what the Blue Man has lost and how to go about helping him find it. With the help of guides like snarky, enigmatic Gerald and good-natured Frank, the children travel through very deep puddles to different realms behind the clouds, learning about the Blue Man’s nemesis, Grey Lady, who may have snatched his magical dragon stones. Schilling’s well drawn, vibrant world elevates his story above the standard adventure quest. His lively, amusing dialogue complements a fantastical world where fish flit through the air like bees (and may accidentally transport you elsewhere), manta rays make shy cabbies, crushed flowers pop back to life and magic permeates everything. While adults will find the narrative captivating, this book is tailor-made for storytime read-alouds.

An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

Pub Date: July 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-595-36189-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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