THE BOY WHO COULD FLY WITHOUT A MOTOR

It’s 1935 and Jon Jeffers is terribly lonely. He lives with his mother and father, who is a lighthouse keeper on a tiny island off the coast of San Francisco; his only friend is his dog, Smacks. If only he could fly, he could escape the forsaken pile of rocks and ghosts of shipwrecked sailors said to haunt the place. When a mysterious magician appears on the beach, he consents to teach Jon to fly if he swears to keep the secret of how to concentrate brain cells to levitate. But his flying gets out of control when the crew on a fishing trawler spots Jon and think he’s a space alien. That leads to an investigation by the Coast Guard and ultimately sends Jon to the White House, where he proves to President Roosevelt, Eleanor, and the press that he can indeed fly. But he won’t reveal how because if he breaks his oath not to tell, he risks being boiled in dragon’s bile or having his toes nailed to a shark’s back. Using telepathy, Jon desperately summons the magician, who cures him, in more ways than one. Despite the appealing, small page size and the spacious layout and type, the beginning is tedious, the plot needs humor, and the tone smacks of a dime novel. The intriguing title suggests a fascinating story and while the premise has the right elements, the writing lacks flow and dynamics (aero or otherwise). The few touches of cleverness can’t rescue the message, “Be careful what you wish for.” It doesn’t fly. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-216529-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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JUDY MOODY SAVES THE WORLD!

McDonald’s irrepressible third-grader (Judy Moody Gets Famous, 2001, etc.) takes a few false steps before hitting full stride. This time, not only has her genius little brother Stink submitted a competing entry in the Crazy Strips Band-Aid design contest, but in the wake of her science teacher’s heads-up about rainforest destruction and endangered animals, she sees every member of her family using rainforest products. It’s all more than enough to put her in a Mood, which gets her in trouble at home for letting Stink’s pet toad, Toady, go free, and at school for surreptitiously collecting all the pencils (made from rainforest cedar) in class. And to top it off, Stink’s Crazy Strips entry wins a prize, while she gets . . . a certificate. Chronicled amusingly in Reynolds’s frequent ink-and-tea drawings, Judy goes from pillar to post—but she justifies the pencil caper convincingly enough to spark a bottle drive that nets her and her classmates not only a hundred seedling trees for Costa Rica, but the coveted school Giraffe Award (given to those who stick their necks out), along with T-shirts and ice cream coupons. Judy’s growing corps of fans will crow “Rare!” right along with her. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7636-1446-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2002

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WATCH OUT FOR SHARKS!

For shark fanciers, a look at a Los Angeles Natural History Museum exhibit, Sharks: Fact and Fantasy. Now touring the country, it includes models of large and small sharks, many of them swimming in simulated undersea settings. The text follows a group of young museum-goers as they examine shark teeth, fossil sharks, sharks in art, and a living shark embryo; shark anatomy, special adaptations, types of sharks, and some shark facts are also included. Photos are clear, colorful and engaging. Not comprehensive, but an attractive added purchase. Pronunciation guide; additional reading; index. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 1991

ISBN: 0-395-57560-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1991

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