The relatable, refreshingly non-Caucasian protagonist will take readers on an action-packed cultural adventure.

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THE 2012 PROPHECIES

HEIR OF THE JAGUAR

The world seems to be on the brink of destruction, as the Maya people might have predicted, and its fate might just rest on the shoulders of a single teenage boy in Simone’s debut young-adult thriller.

As far as Cory McClintock knows, he’s a normal kid. The only thing distinguishing him is that, when he was a baby, his father adopted him from a Maya woman who had begged him to take care of her son. One day, when Cory arrives home from school, he discovers his dad unconscious and bleeding; Cory is immediately kidnapped at gunpoint by Culebra, a man claiming to be his uncle, who takes him to Guatemala. According to Culebra, Cory is the latest in a line of Maya kings who have the ability to reshape the world in the last days of the Maya calendar, a time of planetary upheaval and rebirth. Culebra plans on sacrificing him on an altar, thus taking Cory’s power for himself. Simone has crafted a taut novel that’s impressive for its razor-edge suspense as well as its verisimilitude. Written in first-person present tense, the prose is incredibly tight, sharp and intelligent. Cory never comes across as anything less than a fully believable young man, despite the bizarre circumstances in which he finds himself. His attempts to escape his uncle’s clutches provide nail-biting suspense. Given the novel’s title, one might expect an exploitation of ancient culture, but Simone’s tale has the utmost respect for Maya civilization as the narrative spins a sensationalist tale out of a modern interpretation. The story ultimately illuminates Maya beliefs, while managing to pay homage to pop culture’s apocalyptic interpretation.

The relatable, refreshingly non-Caucasian protagonist will take readers on an action-packed cultural adventure.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1463567330

Page Count: 216

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2012

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THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE

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.

BEHIND THE BLUE

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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