AKIKO ON THE PLANET SMOO

Opening episodes of a comic-book series created by an American teacher in Japan take a leap into chapter-book format, with only partial success. Resembling—in occasional illustrations—a button-eyed, juvenile Olive Oyl, Akiko, 10, is persuaded by a pair of aliens named Bip and Bop to climb out her high-rise bedroom’s window for a trip to M&M-shaped Planet Smoo, where Prince Fropstoppit has been kidnapped by widely feared villainness Alia Rellaport. Along with an assortment of contentious sidekicks, including brainy Mr. Beeba, Akiko battles Sky Pirates and video-game-style monsters in prolonged scenes of cartoony violence, displaying resilience, courage, and leadership ability, but not getting very far in her rescue attempt; in fact, the story cuts off so abruptly, with so little of the quest completed, and at a lull in the action to boot, that readers expecting a self-contained (forget complete) story are likely to feel cheated. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-32724-2

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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DREAMS ARE MORE REAL THAN BATHTUBS

The dream phantasms of a high-spirited narrator intersect, even crowd, reality, but the stream-of-consciousness text makes for a rambling, radically personal tale. Playful images of a stuffed lion, trampoline, purple shoes, and a cat named Pine-Cone take hold in a young girl’s imagination, despite her “old” mother who makes her go to bed when she’d rather “stay up early” and a big sister with a cranky disposition. At home, she likes counting flea bites and pretending to be a worm, but is afraid of the dark and going to Grade One. The second half of the book takes off in a separate first-day-of school direction. Wild dreams precede the big day, which includes bullies on the playground and instant friend Chelsea. The childlike articulations of the text are endearing, but not quite of universal interest, and don’t add up to a compelling story; children may more readily warm to Gay’s illustrations, which include a dreamlike flying cat, a menacing hot dog, and an uproarious stuffed toy looming over everyday domestic scenes. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 1999

ISBN: 1-55143-107-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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EARTHLINGS INSIDE AND OUT

Wyatt (The Science Book for Girls, 1997, etc.) adopts an alien’s-eye-view of earthlings, comparing the human body with that of a friendly lifeform from outer space. A cartoon anatomical outline charts the alien Danoid’s first encounter with Pete. Danoid labels hands as primary manipulatives, feet as planet connectors, and knees, multidirectional movement facilitators. Earthling skin, hair, brains, bones, muscles, and organs are measured by these compare-and-contrast standards, delivering information along the way. Sifting through a flurry of text, readers will stumble upon headings marked “Science Fair Ideas,” consisting of simple, at-home experiments such as tracking one’s pulse with a dab of modeling clay or smelling foods that have strong odors. While the concept is attention-getting, and often humorous, the actual information is often overwhelmed by distracting asides, experiments, and reports filed to Danoid’s commander; this compendium may be more worthwhile for browsers than researchers. (diagrams, index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-55074-511-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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