Adventurous, thought-provoking, fast-paced, and subtly hilarious—in short, a delight to read.

MAX THE MOUSE AND THE SECRET OF MARS

Cantwell (My Friend Casey, 2015, etc.) offers a children’s story of a courageous mouse’s journey to Mars that’s part adventure and part political satire.

A mouse named Max has an owner, Melissa, who treats him kindly and trains him well, and in time, he becomes quite intelligent. But one day, his curiosity gets the best of him, and he escapes through the backyard fence and becomes lost in the city. He finds a group of friendly mice and soon becomes their leader, first directing them out of the dangerous city into the forest and then from the dangerous forest to Mars by balloon. But although the environment of the great red planet seems conducive to their survival, its inhabitants, unfortunately, are not. Robotic mice immediately take Max and his friends captive, and the mechanical royal family sentences them to be executed. The pretentious Princess Bling Bling, however, takes a liking to Max, and after sharing with him the history of her people on Mars, she offers to keep him alive—as her pet. But Max, concerned about his friends, tries to find a way to save them and escape the clutches of the dangerous Mars mice. The book teaches kids about the importance of caring for the environment and the danger of letting technology run one’s life. This is mainly shown through the history of the robotic mice; they were preceded by the Monkey People (symbolic of humans), who were destroyed by laziness and environmental abuse, and the Computer People (symbolic of technology), who eventually destroyed one another. The book also features unique, lovable characters and a quirky sense of humor; adults will get a kick out of Senator Blabbermouth, who keeps a hot air balloon afloat with rambling speeches full of “hot air”: “I promise you free cheese, chocolates for dessert, no taxes...blah, blah, blah.” The book also provides a secondary story about Melissa that’s brilliantly woven throughout Max’s tale. The charming illustrations effectively highlight major events and match the text’s silly tone.

Adventurous, thought-provoking, fast-paced, and subtly hilarious—in short, a delight to read.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5320-0944-0

Page Count: 108

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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A masterful debut from a must-read new voice in fantasy.

FOR THE WOLF

Twin princesses—one fated to become a queen, the other a martyr—find themselves caught up in an unexpected battle of dark magic and ancient gods.

Four hundred years ago, a Valleydan princess facing a loveless betrothal sought refuge in the Wilderwood with her lover, the Wolf. The legendary Five Kings—including her father and her husband-to-be—pursued them only to be trapped in the Wilderwood. Now, according to legend, the only hope of restoring the Five Kings to power lies in the ritual sacrifice of every Second Daughter born to Valleyda's queen. There hasn't been a second daughter for 100 years—until now. On her 20th birthday, Redarys accepts her fate and walks into the Wilderwood to become the Wolf's next victim only to find that the stories she grew up on were lies. The handsome man who lives in a crumbling castle deep in the forest is not the original Wolf but his son, and he wants nothing to do with Red or her sacrifice. Afraid of her wild magic abilities and the danger they pose to her sister, Neverah, Red refuses to leave the Wilderwood. Instead, she clings to the new Wolf, Eammon, who will do whatever it takes to protect her from the grisly fate of the other Second Daughters. Meanwhile, in the Valleydan capital, Neve's desperation to bring her sister home sets her on a path that may spell disaster for Red, Eammon, and the Wilderwood itself. Whitten weaves a captivating tale in this debut, in which even secondary characters come to feel like old friends. The novel seamlessly blends "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Beauty and the Beast" into an un-put-down-able fairy tale that traces the boundaries of duty, love, and loss.

A masterful debut from a must-read new voice in fantasy.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-59278-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible.

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KLARA AND THE SUN

Nobelist Ishiguro returns to familiar dystopian ground with this provocative look at a disturbing near future.

Klara is an AF, or “Artificial Friend,” of a slightly older model than the current production run; she can’t do the perfect acrobatics of the newer B3 line, and she is in constant need of recharging owing to “solar absorption problems,” so much so that “after four continuous days of Pollution,” she recounts, “I could feel myself weakening.” She’s uncommonly intelligent, and even as she goes unsold in the store where she’s on display, she takes in the details of every human visitor. When a teenager named Josie picks her out, to the dismay of her mother, whose stern gaze “never softened or wavered,” Klara has the opportunity to learn a new grammar of portentous meaning: Josie is gravely ill, the Mother deeply depressed by the earlier death of her other daughter. Klara has never been outside, and when the Mother takes her to see a waterfall, Josie being too ill to go along, she asks the Mother about that death, only to be told, “It’s not your business to be curious.” It becomes clear that Klara is not just an AF; she’s being groomed to be a surrogate daughter in the event that Josie, too, dies. Much of Ishiguro’s tale is veiled: We’re never quite sure why Josie is so ill, the consequence, it seems, of genetic editing, or why the world has become such a grim place. It’s clear, though, that it’s a future where the rich, as ever, enjoy every privilege and where children are marshaled into forced social interactions where the entertainment is to abuse androids. Working territory familiar to readers of Brian Aldiss—and Carlo Collodi, for that matter—Ishiguro delivers a story, very much of a piece with his Never Let Me Go, that is told in hushed tones, one in which Klara’s heart, if she had one, is destined to be broken and artificial humans are revealed to be far better than the real thing.

A haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-31817-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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