Old-fashioned, uncomplicated, and cozy science fiction for young readers.

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MIKKEE THE MARTIAN

MIKKEE ARRIVES

In this first children’s book of a series, a Martian and a pair of earthling twins work to foil a gang of bank robbers.

Mikkee is a young Martian man who works hard at his planet’s Ministry of Science’s department for intergalactic studies. To reward his contributions, the Council of Elders sends him to Earth to combine his studies with a vacation. He’ll help earthlings as needed and disguise himself to join in their activities. Somewhere in the United Kingdom, it’s summertime, and the Watson siblings, William and Gillian—“Billy” and “Jilly,” for short—are playing behind their house. Although they’re twins, they’re opposites when it comes to tidiness, as Billy is neat and Jilly is messy. Shortly after they spot Mikkee’s spaceship touching down nearby, they meet the alien, who’s changed his natural appearance—silver-gray skin, no teeth, and no ears—to resemble Billy’s, but with fair hair rather than brown. He asks the twins to keep his secret, which they gladly agree to do. Later, Mikkee hypnotizes the neighbors into believing that he’s a visiting nephew. The next day, the three learn that a trio of masked men just robbed a bank. Using the Martian’s abilities and some determination, they track down the criminals and make sure that justice is done. Debut author Locke presents a simple story in which every difficulty is easily resolved by Mikkee’s near-magical powers, which he doesn’t even use to their fullest extent. The threesome take a bus, for example, to get closer to the robbers, although it’s established that Mikkee can transport them all instantaneously—and can also track the robbers’ movements. Still, some readers may appreciate the tale’s naïve quality, which can be rather sweet, as when the Martian thoughtfully shields his hidden spaceship “to stop animals and birds from crashing into it and hurting themselves.” Mild humor also adds to the story, as when Mikkee uses his abilities to stick a capital “L,” signifying a novice driver in the U.K., on the back of a rude bus driver’s jacket.

Old-fashioned, uncomplicated, and cozy science fiction for young readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-72838-388-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2019

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THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE

In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

BEHIND THE BLUE

A fan of magic and her reluctant companion embark on an adventure when the mysterious Blue Man charges them with a mission.

Little Katherine contemplates what exists behind the scrim of the sky, and she gets her answer after she meets a boy named Charlie, who literally runs into her upon fleeing a blue man and a talking salamander he encounters in the nearby forest. The man is non-threatening, and asks the two to help him recover some lost items, to which Katherine heartily agrees. He doesn’t provide much information, however, so once she and Charlie enter this enchanted universe, they must take it upon themselves to figure out what the Blue Man has lost and how to go about helping him find it. With the help of guides like snarky, enigmatic Gerald and good-natured Frank, the children travel through very deep puddles to different realms behind the clouds, learning about the Blue Man’s nemesis, Grey Lady, who may have snatched his magical dragon stones. Schilling’s well drawn, vibrant world elevates his story above the standard adventure quest. His lively, amusing dialogue complements a fantastical world where fish flit through the air like bees (and may accidentally transport you elsewhere), manta rays make shy cabbies, crushed flowers pop back to life and magic permeates everything. While adults will find the narrative captivating, this book is tailor-made for storytime read-alouds.

An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

Pub Date: July 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-595-36189-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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