Reads like a rough draft of a potentially compelling tale

READ REVIEW

STELLA AND THE TIMEKEEPERS

From the Laws of the Universe series , Vol. 1

Newcomer Petersen uses children’s fantasy to shine a light on esoteric and New Age beliefs.

Stella Merriss’ parents keep their small family constantly on the move. Amid yet another escape, this time via boat, they are lost at sea and she is left to seek her own safety. Fortunately, the universe is guiding her to her ultimate destination, to become an apprentice angel at the Citadel. As she learns more about the Laws of the Universe, she also learns more about herself and her identity as both angel and mermaid just in time to face off against would-be despot Sylvain. The universal laws that govern Stella’s world share much in common with the teachings of The Kybalion and other hermetic philosophical teachings. Though the Chronicles of Narnia and His Dark Materials, among others, have used children’s fantasy to great effect in introducing a particular worldview, both do so with such nuance that even nonadherents can enjoy the worldbuilding. Petersen has no such subtlety. Here the moral teachings frequently clobber readers and nearly strangle the plot. This, along with awkward use of colloquial American English within the fantasy realm and uneven pacing, especially in the beginning, makes for an unpolished read. While there is certainly an audience for spiritual but not religious books for children, Stella’s story is wanting. The book adheres to the white default.

Reads like a rough draft of a potentially compelling tale . (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58270-678-8

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Beyond Words Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Pippi is an inspired creation knit from daydreams.

PIPPI LONGSTOCKING

A fresh delicious fantasy that children will love.

In the character of 9-year-old Pippi Longstocking, who was lucky to have no parents to tell her what to do, is a juvenile Robin Hood with the authority of Mammy Yokum and a Mighty Mouse. Pippi- red headed, in longstockings (one black and one brown), and the strongest girl in the world was the friend of Tommy and Annika. Calmly and ingeniously she put down the enemy forces of the adult world — with a serene efficiency. The teacher was baffled by her logic in pointing out the futility of learning arithmetic; bullies she hoisted on trees; at the circus Pippi rode bareback, walked the tightrope, and wrestled the wrestling champ; cream and sugar flowed (on the floor) when Pippi attended a ladies' coffee party where she revealed "horrid things" with the complacency of Eliza Doolittle. Champion of fun, freedom and fantasy and long happy thoughts,

Pippi is an inspired creation knit from daydreams.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 1950

ISBN: 978-0-14-030957-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1950

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