Overstuffed. (Fantasy. 9-12)



Lorelei is an 11-year-old white girl whose parents and little brother disappeared mysteriously while the family was on a camping trip in the mountains to view a comet.

She is taken in by an aunt and uncle who don't believe that she actually saw a tentacled monster abduct her family. When Lorelei makes one last visit to her former family home, about to be sold, she stumbles into a portal that takes her into the world of Veloran, the titular Wishing World, where she bumps into a strange set of allies who seem to have knowledge of the monster that took her family. Initially, there are some humorous moments that kids will appreciate, and to imagine a comet as an inhabited magical world is an impressive premise. Unfortunately, Fahnestock jumps right into the otherworldly, leaving little room for buildup. The pacing is swift as Lorelei encounters an inundation of odd fantastical beasts, and readers may have trouble keeping up. It’s as if Fahnestock wanted to insert every single weird creature he could imagine into one story. For example, there are the dog-sized cockroaches, a knight-carrying pug, and the rainbow assortment of Spanglish-speaking Flimflams that, as Lorelei describes, sound "like a couple of the kids at my school who were from Mexico." The story relies on an abundance of whimsy, which crowds out the moral conflicts that could have given it needed weight.

Overstuffed. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8588-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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From the Nola's Worlds series

Bubble-gum–tinged whimsy abounds in this stylish French graphic-novel import. Cotton-candy–tressed Nola spends her days dreaming in her peaceful town, Alta Donna. Her world is cozy and ordinary until she meets the aloof and mysterious Damiano and Inés. Nola quickly learns that there are strange forces after the siblings and is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. Nola and her friends radiate a funky fashion sense, constantly changing clothes and hairstyles; it’s hard to imagine a reader who wouldn’t want to raid her closet. This first installment propels forward with the force of a rocket—albeit a very pink, fanciful one. Luckily for the ravenous reader, the whole trilogy releases simultaneously (#2, Ferrets and Ferreting Out, PLB: 978-0-7613-6504-4; #3, Even for a Dreamer Like Me, PLB: 978-0-7613-6505-1). Though it's a fantastic visual experience, the actual plot is thin; even as Nola delves into the mystery in the subsequent volumes, the narrative never really gains any degree of complexity. However, with its upbeat palette (courtesy of Pop), manga-inspired art and hip characters, this charmer is sure to please preteen girls. (Graphic fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6538-9

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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Emily’s motives turn out to be little more than a pretext, but the author delivers another clever, suspenseful drama in the...


Vande Velde again traps teenagers inside an authentically depicted arcade game—but here she works twists into the premise that are both amusing and crank up the danger.

As in User Unfriendly (1991) and Heir Apparent (2002), the game, called “The Land of Golden Butterflies,” is manufactured by the shadowy Rasmussem Corp. and is fully immersive, fed directly into the brain through electrodes. Into this game 14-year-old Grace Pizzelli’s big sister Emily has gone; moreover, she has refused to come out and altered the code so she can’t be forcibly ejected. As sessions that run longer than a few hours cause brain damage and death, the corporation desperately turns to Grace to follow Emily in and persuade her to leave. Reluctantly agreeing, Grace discovers to her disgust that, rather than offering the usual heroic-fantasy or science-fiction setting, this digital world has been colored in pinks and lavenders. It is stocked with (supposedly) benign magical creatures and hunky male servitors—in general, it seems designed to cater to 10-year-old would-be princesses. The idyll has gone sour, though, because thanks to Emily’s fiddling, not only have the wish-granting sprites turned nasty, but the game’s governing Artificial Intelligence has changed the Rules—disabling the “Quit” function and forcing both Grace and her already-failing sister to embark on a seemingly hopeless quest with their real lives at stake.

Emily’s motives turn out to be little more than a pretext, but the author delivers another clever, suspenseful drama in the digital domain. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-73850-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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