Publicized as the first in a series of mysteries featuring Bianca Balducci, 15-year-old high-school sleuth, this effort from first-time novelist Sternberg should satisfy mystery lovers, though it will likely annoy forward-thinking young women. High-school sophomore Bianca confines most of her attention to attracting Doug, whom she hopes will become her first official boyfriend, until Sadie Sinclair suddenly arrives in her school. Sadie exudes mystery. She dresses like an extrovert, yet appears to be shy, and is pitifully happy when Bianca and the other girls accept her as a friend. She’s supposed to be only 15, yet she drives a car. Consumed with curiosity about Sadie and with hero-worship of her older sister Connie, a private detective, Bianca decides to investigate the strange new girl. What she discovers puts herself and Sadie into serious trouble, as well as continually interfering with Bianca and Doug’s romantic progress. While Sternberg emphasizes mystery and action elements, she doesn’t ignore deeper issues. She portrays Bianca as someone who genuinely cares about Sadie even while digging into Sadie’s past, rationalizing her actions with the idea the she’s really helping the girl. Too much moralizing at the end helps to tidy up Bianca’s growth experience, but the emphasis remains on mystery and suspense. It’s an extra entertainment for mystery fans, one for those who want a puzzle without a ghost or a murder and who don’t mind the retro girl stuff. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-890862-23-1

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Bancroft Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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



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 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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