JT Turnbull and 200 children are about to land on the interstellar multi-species commerce hub of Orbis. The children have been alone in space all their lives: When the adults on the Earth ship Renaissance died of an illness 12 years ago, the computer brought the colonists’ frozen embryos to term. JT and the children have been raised by the ship’s computer (and—inexplicably, given the absence of any other people—have developed 20th-century mores and gender biases). When they arrive on Orbis, they discover to their horror that their parents’ agreement with the Citizens of Orbis leaves the children in indentured servitude to unpleasant Star Wars–style aliens. The aliens fight for the right to control JT, who is a Softwire, an extremely rare being who can mentally communicate with computers. When the ancient computer that controls Orbis begins to fail, the Citizens suspect JT, who must clear himself while protecting his friends and family. A potentially compelling space mystery marred by inept prose and a muddled narrative. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-2709-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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The Pumpkin Book (32 pp.; $16.95; Sept. 15; 0-8234-1465-5): From seed to vine and blossom to table, Gibbons traces the growth cycle of everyone’s favorite autumn symbol—the pumpkin. Meticulous drawings detail the transformation of tiny seeds to the colorful gourds that appear at roadside stands and stores in the fall. Directions for planting a pumpkin patch, carving a jack-o’-lantern, and drying the seeds give young gardeners the instructions they need to grow and enjoy their own golden globes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1465-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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Remarking that ``nothing about the weather is very simple,'' Simon goes on to describe how the sun, atmosphere, earth's rotation, ground cover, altitude, pollution, and other factors influence it; briefly, he also tells how weather balloons gather information. Even for this outstanding author, it's a tough, complex topic, and he's not entirely successful in simplifying it; moreover, the import of the striking uncaptioned color photos here isn't always clear. One passage—``Cumulus clouds sometimes build up into towering masses called cumulus congestus, or swelling cumulus, which may turn into cumulonimbus clouds''—is superimposed on a blue-gray, cloud-covered landscape. But which kind of clouds are these? Another photo, in blue-black and white, shows what might be precipitation in the upper atmosphere, or rain falling on a darkened landscape, or...? Generally competent and certainly attractive, but not Simon's best. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-10546-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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