TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA

Nameless, ageless, genderless first-person narrators bring readers into offbeat yet recognizable places in this sparkling, mind-bending collection from the creator of The Arrival (2007). In “Our Expedition,” siblings set out to see if anything exists beyond the end of their father’s road map. Dysfunctional parents and the child they ignore are brought together when a dugong appears in their front lawn in “Undertow.” With these and other short stories, Tan brings magic to places where magic rarely happens in books. These are fairy tales for modern times, in which there is valor, love and wisdom—without dragons and castles. The accompanying illustrations vary widely in style, medium and palette, reflecting both the events and the mood of each story, while hewing to a unifying sense of the surreal. In some stories, Tan has replaced the sparse, atmospheric text entirely with pictures, leaving the reader to absorb the stunning visual impact of his imagined universe. Several poems—and a short story—told via collage are included. Graphic-novel and text enthusiasts alike will be drawn to this breathtaking combination of words and images. (Graphic anthology. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-545-05587-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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Some might guess at the baffling, heart-pounding conclusion, but when all the sidewalk characters from Miranda’s Manhattan...

WHEN YOU REACH ME

When Miranda’s best friend Sal gets punched by a strange kid, he abruptly stops speaking to her; then oddly prescient letters start arriving.

They ask for her help, saying, “I'm coming to save your friend's life, and my own.” Readers will immediately connect with Miranda’s fluid first-person narration, a mix of Manhattan street smarts and pre-teen innocence. She addresses the letter writer and recounts the weird events of her sixth-grade year, hoping to make sense of the crumpled notes. Miranda’s crystalline picture of her urban landscape will resonate with city teens and intrigue suburban kids. As the letters keep coming, Miranda clings to her favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, and discusses time travel with Marcus, the nice, nerdy boy who punched Sal. Keen readers will notice Stead toying with time from the start, as Miranda writes in the present about past events that will determine her future.

Some might guess at the baffling, heart-pounding conclusion, but when all the sidewalk characters from Miranda’s Manhattan world converge amid mind-blowing revelations and cunning details, teen readers will circle back to the beginning and say, “Wow...cool.” (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: July 14, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-385-73742-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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