Can young spacefarer Celeste astrogate through 10 mazes, each one with distinct challenges, in time to save the universe from becoming snack food?

Uh-oh, “revolting villain” Reducto has invented a vacuum that miniaturizes and sucks up whole galaxies (“Better than popcorn,” he chortles, popping a planet into his mouth). The red-haired, light-skinned rescuer, with her three-eyed, green sidekick, Neutrino, is going to need plenty of help to reach Planet Maz, sneak past the evil inventor’s defenses, and turn the device off. Plainly sympathizing with the bad guy, Méhée concocts a series of fiendishly clever tangles to impede the mission, featuring an array of spinners and flaps that need to be set in just the right ways to open electrical circuits or clear routes that avoid black holes and other hazards…not to mention items to collect or pick out from masses of similar ones, a maze that requires a blind start through one of several die-cut holes, and another that physically floats over a starscape strewn with toothy monsters. Better (or worse) yet, the whole mission turns out to be largely a warm-up for the task of reconstituting the universe and then returning home—both accomplished by negotiating a set of even more bewildering mazes including two that unfold to humongous size. Mercifully, there’s a visual key at the end.

Fiendish. (Novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-40800-791-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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The underwater setting adds some dimension to straightforward friendship stories.


From the Mermaid Tales series , Vol. 1

Prolific Dadey's (Keyholders: The Wrong Side of Magic, 2010, etc.) latest series follows young mermaids through turbulent friendships.

Eight-year-old best friends Shelly and Echo are overjoyed to be starting school at the prestigious Trident Academy at the same time. Rambunctious and good-natured, together they cause mild trouble, especially in trying to find a way to make grumpy Mr. Fangtooth crack a smile. Their friendship wobbles when they disagree over whether to ask Shelly's grandfather for help on a school project or not. The minor tiff leads to Echo's sudden friendship with Pearl, a rich snob who dislikes Shelly most of all. Echo and Shelly miss each other, though, and restore their friendship while reaching out to another mermaid who is new to the area and has made friends. While Echo and Shelly are not particularly distinctive, and Pearl and the archetypal token boy, Rocky, are cartoony, the characters' interactions are funny and believable. The friendship-driven conflicts continue in Battle of the Best Friends (publishing simultaneously). In Battle, Pearl books a top under-the-sea band to perform and invites Echo but not Shelly; the end again reinforces the importance of inclusiveness and rewards those who are nice.

The underwater setting adds some dimension to straightforward friendship stories. (class reports written by each character, song lyrics, author's note, glossary) (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4978-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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Italics and exclamation points may be overused, but this new humorous series is full of gently amusing magical surprises.


From the Hubble Bubble series , Vol. 1

Shades of Bewitched, the old TV show featuring a witch married to a regular guy.

This new chapter-book series stars Pandora, a white girl with two grandmas—the good witch, Granny Crow, in a patterned minidress, whose magical powers enliven any party or school outing, and Granny Podmore, in her cardigan and plaid skirt, a kind but stereotypical grandmother who cleans and cooks. Pandora’s friends include Nellie, a black girl, and Nellie’s mom is also depicted as black in the exuberant line drawings with gray washes. The three chapterlong adventures are rather tame, meant for readers who want fun rather than fright. In “The Super-Spooky Fright Night!” (all titles have exclamation points), the two grandmothers host a Halloween party. Granny Crow creates “bat-shaped cookies that hung around the bowls, and a custard cat (that actually meowed!).” Granny Podmore makes “the neatest swans” from napkins. Granny Crow conjures up musical broomsticks when Granny Podmore wants to introduce musical chairs. The evening ends happily when Granny Podmore uses Ollie, her vacuum cleaner, to suck up little pumpkins from Granny Crow’s pumpkin pop gone wild. Only Granny Crow appears in the other stories, making teddy bears come alive to give a “teddy bears’ picnic!” and causing a nasty teacher to accidentally cast a spell that turns a school swimming lesson into utter chaos.

Italics and exclamation points may be overused, but this new humorous series is full of gently amusing magical surprises. (Fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8653-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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