A classic good-vs.-evil story set in a world ripe with opportunity for creative expansion.

SHOOTING STARS

In her debut novel, Hodgson invents a universe where nearly every star in the solar system contains life.

Teenage siblings Stella and Isaac lead a normal, if isolated, childhood on Earth. But after their parents’ sudden death, they learn that their mother and father were powerful royalty of the Zodiacs, the 12 constellations surrounding the sun. Stella and Isaac were raised in hiding after the evil Gershon overthrew the Zodiacs’ true rulers. (Their parents knew Gershon would never look for them on Earth, a place considered insignificant based on the low intelligence of its inhabitants.) Now, only Stella and Isaac possess the special skills to overthrow the vindictive regime and reclaim their rightful throne. While Isaac takes on the role of intrepid hero, Stella struggles with the circumstances: She lacks self-confidence and doesn’t believe she’s capable of saving the world. The characters’ feelings, spanning from incredulous to inquisitive to enlivened, are refreshingly believable within the book’s wholly fantastical setting. Despite their grief and naiveté, both teens prove to be natural leaders as they vow to avenge their parents’ deaths and to rescue the oppressed Zodians. But young Stella and Isaac don’t have to battle Gershon and his followers alone; winged horses from the Pegasus constellation volunteer to aid, as do dragons from Draco. Though they eventually face off with Gershon, Stella and Isaac spend the majority of the book practicing their powers—including an ability to travel as “Shooting Stars” from star to star—and learning the basics about the universe that is new to them, in preparation for a battle yet to come. There’s much that Hodgson can develop in future installments, and readers will be eager to learn more about this magical world.

A classic good-vs.-evil story set in a world ripe with opportunity for creative expansion.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-1469931616

Page Count: 308

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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