Much less grim than the series opener, with plenty of mermaid appeal for readers happy with lyrical but overlong musings

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GIRL AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA

From the Chelsea Trilogy series , Vol. 2

This second installment in the Chelsea Trilogy takes its 13-year-old heroine on a journey from urban blight through deep-sea magic.

Sophie’s adventure begins where her previous tale had ended, with her bones crushed to jelly beneath the violent, watery fist of her grandmother, the malevolent sea witch Kishka. Kept alive only by her own magic—for Sophie has inherited her grandmother’s Odmience powers—Sophie is dragged into the healing depths of the ocean by her mermaid friend, Syrena. Far from the festering squalor of her home in Chelsea, Massachusetts, far from the noisy party boats kicking up a racket in Boston Harbor, Sophie begins coming into her magic at last. Together, Sophie and Syrena begin the long journey to Poland, where Sophie will have to save the world (“When I’m done with saving humanity, I am going to make my mom go on a booze cruise,” Sophie promises herself). For this in-between trilogy adventure, Sophie primarily explores the richly described (if scientifically dubiously) undersea world as a warm-up for what will presumably be her epic final battle. She eats plankton and salt, wears a baby octopus in her hair and learns to control the currents. Primarily, Sophie reacts rather than acts; much of her role is to gain emotional revelations about friendship. Certainly the deep affection between Sophie and the foulmouthed, insult-flinging mermaid is apparent, if snark-filled.

Much less grim than the series opener, with plenty of mermaid appeal for readers happy with lyrical but overlong musings . (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-940450-00-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: McSweeney's McMullens

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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Willis Holt’s When Zachary Beaver Came To Town (1999). (Fiction. 11-13)

REM WORLD

Preachy, predictable tale of an overweight lad who saves the universe while gaining self-esteem—a large step back from

Philbrick’s Freak the Mighty (1993). The odd helmet that Arthur Woodbury, a.k.a. "Biscuit Butt," receives on his 11th birthday projects him into another world—but because he doesn’t read the instructions carefully, he opens a crack in the cosmos through which all-destroying Nothing begins to seep. Acquiring an inscrutable, monkey-like sidekick, Arthur is propelled into encounters with froglike Frog People, winged Cloud People, and other residents of REM World, all of whom bolster his self-confidence with platitudes ("You are whatever you think you are. What you believe yourself to be," etc.) and send him on his way to the demon Vydel, who alone can tell him how to get back to his own dimension. Even readers uncritical enough to enjoy the author’s lame efforts at wit—burps of epic proportion, avian monsters dubbed borons ("bird" + "moron")—will find Arthur’s adventures so obviously freighted with Purpose as to be almost devoid of danger or suspense. Unsurprisingly, he has only to envision home to be there—and when he wakes up, both the cloud of Nothing and his excess poundage have melted away. Look for more engaging aliens in books like Annette Curtis Klause’s Alien Secrets and a far more memorable fat kid in Kimberly

Willis Holt’s When Zachary Beaver Came To Town (1999). (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08362-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2000

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