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A fresh, funny adventure and the best installment in the series so far.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

In the third book of the middle-grade Chelldrah-Ham series, von Clinkerhoffen (The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham: War of Chaos, 2015, etc.) brings its protagonists to a different world: Earth.

After following the evil human Anet through a rift to her home planet, Stig and Meg (aliens known as Manna) are astonished by their new surroundings. Earth is populated by giants who talk into mysterious black boxes, drive “strange enclosed carts,” and arm themselves with “fire sticks.” Although the two Manna are invisible to most humans, it’s not long before they find themselves hunted by “smelly copters” in the sky and police officers on land. As they try to shake their pursuers, they steal from a bar, scare people in a church, and accidentally wreak havoc on the English countryside in misadventures that include vehicular crashes and explosions. In between, they follow a series of obscure clues leading to an ancient, golden temple underground, which guards the entrance to their homeworld. With the help of allies, both human and Manna, they try to defeat Anet before she unleashes an army of mutant creatures on the Manna and plunders their city’s gold. Nothing breathes new life into a series like a change in setting, and von Clinkerhoffen plays up the dramatic irony of the two Manna viewing the human world from the outside, with frequently humorous results. For instance, Stig and Meg refer to television as “ohnomorerepeats,” having heard humans use that phrase repeatedly. By now, the author’s habit of italicizing sound effects is no longer distracting; instead, the clunks and whirs merely draw attention to Stig’s mechanical obsession. As in the previous books, the Manna encounter various vehicles and machinery, and von Clinkerhoffen discusses in depth how they work, which some young readers might find tedious. Aspiring mechanics or engineers, though, will enjoy solving problems right along with Stig.

A fresh, funny adventure and the best installment in the series so far.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5395-1542-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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