For those who might enjoy a dog book, a science book, or just a good story.

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LUCY AND THE ROCKET DOG

Lucy must be a very intelligent girl, since she is able to build a rocket capable of traveling nearly the speed of light from stray parts—that then accidentally launches her hapless basset hound, Laika, into space.

From that point, the tale alternates between Laika’s strange adventures and Lucy’s not especially commonplace life, as the white, science-focused girl learns to manage her grief over her lost dog and grows into a very clever astrophysicist. She’s so clever that she wins the Nobel Prize for physics. Laika’s adventures simply increase in strangeness, as she’s rescued by doglike extraterrestrials in a bone-shaped spacecraft that passes through a wormhole on its way to Alpha Centauri. For Laika, time spins rapidly past. For Lucy, a lifetime goes by before they are miraculously reunited. The tale is told in often repetitive language that’s reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s style, with most sentences unvarying in structure. This somehow imparts a sense of fable rather than mere story, but this style has the potential to grow tedious and annoying. Saving it from tedium are Laika’s delicious doggy enthusiasm, Arnaldo’s evocative illustrations, the lovely, simple explanation of difficult concepts of space and time, and, of course, a very happy ending.

For those who might enjoy a dog book, a science book, or just a good story. (Science fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55432-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Readers will be irresistibly drawn into Harry's world by GrandPre's comic illustrations and Rowling's expert combination of...

HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998) brings back the doughty young wizard-in-training to face suspicious adults, hostile classmates, fretful ghosts, rambunctious spells, giant spiders, and even an avatar of Lord Voldemort, the evil sorcerer who killed his parents, while saving the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from a deadly, mysterious menace.

Ignoring a most peculiar warning, Harry kicks off his second year at Hogwarts after a dreadful summer with his hateful guardians, the Dursleys, and is instantly cast into a whirlwind of magical pranks and misadventures, culminating in a visit to the hidden cavern where his friend Ron's little sister Ginny lies, barely alive, in a trap set by his worst enemy. Surrounded by a grand mix of wise and inept faculty, sneering or loyal peers—plus an array of supernatural creatures including Nearly Headless Nick and a huge, serpentine basilisk—Harry steadily rises to every challenge, and though he plays but one match of the gloriously chaotic field game Quidditch, he does get in plenty of magic and a bit of swordplay on his way to becoming a hero again.

Readers will be irresistibly drawn into Harry's world by GrandPre's comic illustrations and Rowling's expert combination of broad boarding school farce and high fantasy. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 2, 1999

ISBN: 0-439-06486-4

Page Count: 341

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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