A curious, freewheeling read for inquiring young minds.

THE IMAGINATION WARRIORS

In Romanelli’s debut children’s novel, a young New Mexican and a talking feline go on a spiritual adventure.

Daisy May is a special cat. Not only can she talk, but she also has the gift of precognition. But although she leads a comfortable life in New York City, she feels unfulfilled. When her owner’s 9-year-old granddaughter, Philomena, invites her to come to Lamy, New Mexico, to investigate a mystery, the cat decides to put her psychic powers to good use. Philomena is an adventurous, independent child whose paleontologist father is often away from home. She’s been keeping watch on a painting of a Native American man that hangs in a Lamy saloon, whose details—such as the number of teepees in the background—have been changing. She takes Daisy May to meet her artist friend, Noshi, whose latest work, an image of a Native American princess, has been similarly mutable. Daisy May, Philomena, and Noshi declare themselves to be “Imagination Warriors,” and they find that they’re able to use the power of thought to enter Noshi’s painting; inside, they find conduits to other pictures and paths to other places and times. But will they ever figure out what’s going on with the pictures and make their way home? Romanelli portrays a world full of wonder and plays up the characters’ embrace of imagination. Daisy May and Philomena are full of inquisitiveness, not skepticism, which will appeal to a middle-grade audience. Romanelli effectively portrays imagination as a means for dealing with problems, such as loneliness or the feeling of being tied down by circumstance. By switching the narrative’s perspective to secondary characters—including Rama, a talking llama—the author shows how imagination can spread like ripples on a pond. The dialogue’s tone is formal, rather than naturalistic, but the story moves quickly as characters investigate the mystery, which is only partially resolved. Indeed, the book turns dark and ends rather chaotically, setting up a potential sequel. Even so, young readers will likely be happy to tag along. Sawyer’s (The Cupcake Book, 2014, etc.) full-color illustrations are suitably hazy and fantastical.

A curious, freewheeling read for inquiring young minds.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9996389-0-3

Page Count: 231

Publisher: Little Roman Press

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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