The weak plot doesn’t really bear up under its instructional load, but there’s enough farce to keep the lessons well-greased.

THE NOT-SO-PERFECT PLANET

From the Way-Too-Real Aliens series , Vol. 2

Caving to the demands of his pesky little sister Maggie, aspiring fictioneer Josh’s second fantasy story features a world with mermaids and unicorns. Sort of.

The devil's in the details, though, and just as in the series opener (Escape From Planet Yastol, 2011) the two find themselves stranded in an actual, newly made reality based on Josh's tale but inhabited by toothy, twisted versions of the residents he has inexpertly envisioned. Furthermore, during the ensuing series of captures and escapes, Josh and Maggie are joined by no fewer than five different kinds of creatures, each of whom turns out to be a youngest child afflicted with bossy parents and scornful older sibs. The plot is no more than a set of loosely connected set pieces, but readers may find the burgeoning corps of somehow–familiar-sounding furred, scaled, winged, finny and even stone whiners amusing, and budding writers may take both Service’s indirect advice about verbal precision and her embedded examples of Theme, Composition, Character Development and Revision to heart. Gorman’s angular figures of grotesque aliens and their frantic-looking creator in various predicaments goose up the comic overtones.

The weak plot doesn’t really bear up under its instructional load, but there’s enough farce to keep the lessons well-greased. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-7919-5

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet adventure and a paean to imagination and childhood innocence.

THE LAND OF ROAR

From the Land of Roar series , Vol. 1

A fantasy world comes to life and lures its young creators back into it in this imaginative middle-grade debut and U.K. import.

Narrator Arthur always loved playing make-believe in Grandad’s attic with his twin sister, Rose. Years ago they dreamed up Roar, a magical land that they entered via an old fold-up cot that acted as a portal. Now that they are 11 and starting school at Langdon Academy, Rose has new friends and wants nothing to do with her brother or their imaginary world. Rose may be done with Roar, but it’s not finished with her. When their grandfather is kidnapped and taken into Roar, Arthur and Rose must team up to mount a rescue mission. McLachlan does an excellent job of establishing the sibling tension before introducing the fantasy elements, and Rose’s desire to grow up and fit in feels as familiar and accessible as Arthur’s yearning to remain a child. While obviously reminiscent of classic fantasy, this narrative’s sheer inventiveness marks it as distinct. The twins’ widowed grandfather, a larger-than-life jokester from Mauritius, is a Peter Pan–like figure whose abduction brings the narrative into Roar, allowing the text and Mantle’s illustrations to go wild with creativity. The use of a wordless double-page spread to depict Arthur’s arrival into the fantasy realm is particularly inventive. Arthur and Rose are depicted as kids of color.

A sweet adventure and a paean to imagination and childhood innocence. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-298271-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more