A humorous but flawed parody best suited for young adults and adults rather than the picture-book audience.

A DOWN-HOME TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

A young white woman named Cyndi Lou is presented with unusual (and sometimes-unwelcome) gifts for the 12 days of Christmas by her suitor, Billy Ray.

Cyndi Lou looks like a young Carrie Underwood, with a poufy ponytail, denim shorts, and cowgirl boots. She lives with her grandmother, Memaw, in a double-wide trailer in a country setting somewhere in the South. Billy Ray’s gifts are shown on left-hand pages, with chatty, amusing thank-you letters to Billy Ray from Cyndi Lou on the right-hand pages. While the letters are humorous, the illustrations are rather unsophisticated in composition and technique. Cyndi Lou likes her first few gifts, including “a possum in a sweet-gum tree,” two armadillos, and five razorback hogs. Things go downhill with subsequent gifts, including six gun-toting, smelly deer hunters (all men), eight Walmart shoppers (all women), and 10 NASCAR drivers (only one, a man, is pictured). By the conclusion, Cyndi Lou has married one of the NASCAR drivers, Memaw and friends are armed with 12 gifted muzzleloaders looking for Billy Ray, and the sheriff’s deputies (from problematically named Coon County) are looking for Memaw, “considered dangerous.” The main characters are all white; some of the hunters, shoppers, and other secondary characters are black or brown.

A humorous but flawed parody best suited for young adults and adults rather than the picture-book audience. (author’s note) (Picture book. 11-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4556-2298-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity.

FUTUREDAZE

AN ANTHOLOGY OF YA SCIENCE FICTION

A low-wattage collection of original stories and poems, as unmemorable as it is unappealingly titled.

The collection was inspired by a perceived paucity of short science fiction for teen readers, and its production costs were covered by a Kickstarter campaign. The editors gather a dozen poems and 21 stories from a stable of contributors who, after headliners Jack McDevitt and Nancy Holder, will be largely unknown even to widely read fans of the genre. The tales place their characters aboard spacecraft or space stations, on other worlds or in future dystopias, but only rarely do the writers capture a credibly adolescent voice or sensibility. Standouts in this department are the Heinlein-esque “The Stars Beneath Our Feet,” by Stephen D. Covey & Sandra McDonald, about a first date/joyride in space gone wrong, and Camille Alexa’s portrait of a teen traumatized by a cyberspace assault (“Over It”). Along with a few attempts to craft futuristic slang, only Lavie Tidhar’s fragmentary tale of Tel Aviv invaded by successive waves of aliens, doppelgangers, zombies and carnivorous plants (“The Myriad Dangers”) effectively lightens the overall earnest tone. Aside from fictional aliens and modified humans, occasional references to dark skin (“Out of the Silent Sea,” Dale Lucas) are the only signs of ethnic diversity. Most of the free-verse poetry makes only oblique, at best, references to science-fictional themes.

A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity. (author bios) (Science fiction/short stories. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9847824-0-8

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Underwords

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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What do flowers remember? The stories of the people who cared for them, of course, as Wiersbitzky’s sensitive novel...

WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER

Thanks to her love of flowers, Delia has become a sort of apprentice to talented gardener Old Red and is devastated when he begins to show signs of encroaching dementia.

With all of the confidence of youth, she holds in her heart the belief that perhaps with her help—and that of all his loving neighbors—she can preserve his memories by collecting favorite stories about the beloved man. As she moves through the months, she records (in a rather mature first-person) both the tasks she completes in the garden as well as the stories she collects about him, also describing Red’s tragically inexorable decline. Delia’s surrounded by loving adults, and she shares her grief with best friend Mae and new love interest Tommy, as well as receiving support from members of her church; with these relationships, this warm effort neatly captures the strength of a close-knit community and the tight bonds that can form between the very old and the young. The 13-year-old’s often lyrical prose is attractive, even though it sometimes strays toward a more adult-sounding voice. Her frustration, fear and sense of loss will be readily recognizable to others who have experienced dementia in a loved one, and her story may provide some guidance on how to move down that rocky path toward acceptance and letting go.

What do flowers remember? The stories of the people who cared for them, of course, as Wiersbitzky’s sensitive novel compassionately conveys. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60898-166-3

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Namelos

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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