This extended exercise in often overflowing imagination needs more authenticity, grounding, and restraint to allow its tale...

READ REVIEW

Marshmallows Over Manhattan

After suffering disappointment, an ingenious boy from Manhattan takes a train to a wondrous world and embarks on a quest in this debut middle-grade fantasy novel.

Hugo Doppel looks forward to the annual Mad Science Day at his elementary school, Great Beacon Academy, because he plans to present his latest invention: a machine with the ability not only to create any weather he desires, but also to stop current conditions. Unfortunately, when his machine fails to prevent the snow coming down during his demonstration, he becomes the school’s laughingstock. Dejected, he starts to walk home, coming across an old subway token for something called the “Menlo Express.” He wishes he could be whisked away from Manhattan to a place of adventure, and soon, in a burst of snowflakes, he is, finding himself in a train station he’s never heard of before that is curiously named after him. Boarding the train, he winds up at the Junkyard of Goofy Inventions, guarded by Inventaur the Centaur, whose boss, Henry Pendleton, presents him with a letter from Magnus Winterbach the Wizard. The missive states that Hugo’s discovery of the mysterious token signifies that he is meant to free Magnus and many others from the tyrannical rule of the Skull Face Witch, who has wreaked havoc on the Kingdom of Menlo for many years. Weger stuffs his ambitious novel with fanciful scenes and whimsical characters, arguably to a fault. Although Hugo proves to be a resourceful and likable hero, the book relies less on plot and character development to propel the narrative, focusing instead on increasingly silly worldbuilding—including a desert of wet sand, an anthropomorphic bus, enormous cockroaches, and more. These facets, which are often entertaining, ultimately become exhausting, rarely providing true storytelling substance. While the novel often hearkens back to other classic examples of children’s literature, in which young, ordinary protagonists travel to magical lands, it rarely displays the finesse and heart of such genre titans as Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and the Narnia series.

This extended exercise in often overflowing imagination needs more authenticity, grounding, and restraint to allow its tale about a young inventor to truly soar.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63413-682-2

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Mill City Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more