Uneven but could get kids thinking about ways to safeguard the environment.

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MAGIC MOON

BEARS EARS

Fifth in a series, this children’s chapter book finds practical and fanciful ways to promote environmentalism.

Jackson, nearly 11, came back to Earth about a year ago with his mother and sister from their dying world. Tara, a girl from Earth his age, found a magic portal and led them to safety as predicted by Magic Moon, who grants certain requests and gives advice. In Magic Moon’s new world, he helped young Farni, who was being bullied—no more, thanks in part to the protection of Brown Bear. Now, though, Brown Bear is in danger, his kind almost extinct. Magic Moon suggests using an upcoming solar eclipse to get the villagers’ attention and demonstrate Brown Bear’s harmlessness. On Earth, Jackson looks forward to going with Tara and her family to Bears Ears National Monument—but is saddened to learn that the government plans to discontinue many protections for the area. He decides to get signatures on a petition and send it to his representative. On an exciting ride in Tara’s grandfather’s helicopter, also during a solar eclipse, the families fly through another magic portal to Farni’s world, which Magic Moon says can be another home for endangered species like grizzlies. In both worlds, children learn that they can make a difference. Moulton (Magic Moon: A New Beginning [Vol. 4], 2017, etc.) employs humor and the appeal of magic to enliven her protect-the-environment message. The idea of a Noah’s Ark planet where endangered species can safely live also has a lot of appeal. Dialogue reveals character well; for example, the children speak casually, while the scientists on Farni’s world use a stuffier register—an amusing contrast to Magic Moon’s directness. For example, after Magic Moon booms, “I’m right here!” the scientists reply with “It speaks!...What manner of being is this?” The overall story unfolds via short chapters that alternate between worlds, and it can be hard to follow the separate plotlines, which tend to get lost in all the detail about, for example, proper viewing equipment for the eclipse.

Uneven but could get kids thinking about ways to safeguard the environment.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9983137-3-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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