Missteps don’t altogether take away from this thoughtful novel.

READ REVIEW

EARTH TO DAD

Two children find friendship against a backdrop of apocalypse.

Ever since Jameson O’Malley’s father left for a mission to Mars on the Christopher Columbus, their only contact is through Jameson’s Interplanetary Communication Console, a homemade audio-video transmitter. Earth is now dangerously overheated, the atmosphere destroyed due to an asteroid that’s knocked the planet’s orbit off-kilter. A successful Mars mission is humanity’s last chance. When friendless Jameson meets his new next-door neighbor, the prickly Astra Primm, he is determined to somehow forge a friendship, and the two find solace together after he learns she lost her astronaut mother on a recent Mars mission. Jameson’s mother and Astra’s father also begin to form a friendship that Jameson suspects is growing too close. When the JICC breaks down, Jameson and Astra undertake a secret mission of their own to find a much-needed replacement part. A sudden chill from Astra leads him to believe she knows a secret that everyone, including the school counselor, is keeping from Jameson. Van Dolzer uses her apocalyptic setting to highlight this story of grief, creating believable, likable child characters. Unfortunately, she undermines Jameson’s intelligence by driving the plot with an open secret only he is ignorant of. Jameson is white and Astra black, and though her initial hostility plays into the “angry black girl” stereotype (and, egregiously, her flared nostrils are compared to lima beans), she develops into a well-realized, complex character.

Missteps don’t altogether take away from this thoughtful novel. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-012-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing.

SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE

From the Sunny series , Vol. 3

Sunny, in seventh grade, finds her score on the Groovy Meter taking some wild swings as her friends’ interests move in different directions.

In a motif that haunts her throughout, Sunny succumbs to a teen magazine’s personality quiz and sees her tally seesaw radically. Her BF Deb has suddenly switched focus to boys, clothes, and bands such as the Bee Gees (this is 1977)—dismissing trick-or-treating and wearing galoshes on rainy days as “babyish.” Meanwhile, Sunny takes delight in joining nerdy neighbors Lev, Brian, and Arun in regular sessions of Dungeons and Dragons (as a fighter character, so cool). The storytelling is predominantly visual in this episodic outing, with just occasional snatches of dialogue and pithy labels to fill in details or mark the passage of time; frequent reaction shots deftly capture Sunny’s feelings of being pulled this way and that. Tellingly, in the Holms’ panels (colored by Pien), Sunny’s depicted as significantly smaller than Deb, visually underscoring her developmental awkwardness. Deb’s comment that “we’re too old to be playing games like that” leads Sunny to drop out of the D&D circle and even go to the school’s staggeringly dull spring dance. Sunny’s mostly white circle of peers expands and becomes more diverse as she continues to navigate her way through the dark chambers and misty passages of early adolescence. Lev is an Orthodox Jew, Arun is South Asian, and Regina, another female friend, has brown skin.

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-23314-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An entertaining continuation to a magical series that celebrates diversity with a magical twist.

WISHED

From the Fairy Tale Reform School series , Vol. 5

With Rumpelstiltskin and his band of villains still on the loose, the students and staff of Fairy Tale Reform School are on high alert as they prepare for the next attack.

Classes are devoted to teaching battle techniques and conjuring new weapons, which narrator Gilly finds preferable to learning history or manners. But Maxine, her ogress friend, has had it with all the doom and gloom. The last straw is when the agenda at the Royal Lady-in-Waiting meeting is changed from “How to Plan the Perfect Fairy Garden Party” to designing flying rocks and creating flower darts. While on a class field trip to the village to investigate their future careers, Maxine finds a magic lamp housing a genie named Darlene. Her wish that everyone be happy works a little too well. War preparations are put on hold as the school fills with flowers, laughter, and plans for a musical production. But when Gilly is tapped to fill in for the local chief of the dwarf police, things really take a turn for the worse. The students, including fairies, ogres, and the part-human/part-beast offspring of Beauty and the ex-Beast, focus on friendship and supporting one another in spite of their differences. Humility, forgiveness, and loyalty are also highly regarded in the FTRS community. Human Gilly is white, but there is racial as well as species diversity at FTRS.

An entertaining continuation to a magical series that celebrates diversity with a magical twist. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5167-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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