Who says a middle schooler can’t change history? It’s all about being in the right place—and time.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

YOU'VE GOT MAIL

From the Benjamin Franklin series

Franklin Isaac Saturday mails himself in a box back to the 18th century to help out his pen pal and good buddy, “B-Freezy.” Dude!

It’s the least Ike can do, seeing as how previous gifts from the future (as detailed in Benjamin Franklin: Huge Pain in My…, 2015) have turned Franklin into a homeless fugitive and threaten to derail the whole American Revolution thing. Thinking that a quick trip overseas could solve both problems, the white middle schooler and his irritable but indulgent ally take ship in Philadelphia—meeting onboard certain other Founding Fathers Ike dubs “T-Jeff” and “Johnny Adrock”—to appeal for aid from the king of France. Unfortunately, a rendezvous with a few too many iffy oysters along the way leaves Ike to make the actual appeal while B-Freezy and his diplomat buds ralph in the background. Related in a mix of first-person narrative, diary entries from Franklin, and long letters exchanged between Ike and his Asian-American 21st-century girlfriend, Claire Wanzandae, the tale may strain readers’ ability to go with the flow (no kidding). Still, it should leave them respecting both the awesomeness of the U.S. Postal Service (Franklin’s invention!) and the resourceful protagonist, who may be slow to realize that Marie Antoinette wasn’t the discoverer of radium but shows an ability to rise eloquently to the occasion when needs must.

Who says a middle schooler can’t change history? It’s all about being in the right place—and time. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1305-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Much rousing sturm und drang, though what’s left after the dust settles is a heap of glittering but disparate good parts...

THE ENCHANTRESS

From the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series , Vol. 5

Scott tops off his deservedly popular series with a heaping shovelful of monster attacks, heroic last stands, earthquakes and other geological events, magic-working, millennia-long schemes coming to fruition, hearts laid bare, family revelations, transformations, redemptions and happy endings (for those deserving them).

Multiple plotlines—some of which, thanks to time travel, feature the same characters and even figures killed off in previous episodes—come to simultaneous heads in a whirl of short chapters. Flamel and allies (including Prometheus and Billy the Kid) defend modern San Francisco from a motley host of mythological baddies. Meanwhile, in ancient Danu Talis (aka Atlantis), Josh and Sophie are being swept into a play to bring certain Elders to power as the city’s downtrodden “humani” population rises up behind Virginia Dare, the repentant John Dee and other Immortals and Elders. The cast never seems unwieldy despite its size, the pacing never lets up, and the individual set pieces are fine mixtures of sudden action, heroic badinage and cliffhanger cutoffs. As a whole, though, the tale collapses under its own weight as the San Francisco subplots turn out to be no more than an irrelevant sideshow, and climactic conflicts take place on an island that is somehow both a historical, physical place and a higher reality from which Earth and other “shadowrealms” are spun off.

Much rousing sturm und drang, though what’s left after the dust settles is a heap of glittering but disparate good parts rather than a cohesive whole. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-73535-3

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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I AM NUMBER FOUR

From the Lorien Legacies series , Vol. 1

If it were a Golden Age comic, this tale of ridiculous science, space dogs and humanoid aliens with flashlights in their hands might not be bad. Alas... Number Four is a fugitive from the planet Lorien, which is sloppily described as both "hundreds of lightyears away" and "billions of miles away." Along with eight other children and their caretakers, Number Four escaped from the Mogadorian invasion of Lorien ten years ago. Now the nine children are scattered on Earth, hiding. Luckily and fairly nonsensically, the planet's Elders cast a charm on them so they could only be killed in numerical order, but children one through three are dead, and Number Four is next. Too bad he's finally gained a friend and a girlfriend and doesn't want to run. At least his newly developing alien powers means there will be screen-ready combat and explosions. Perhaps most idiotic, "author" Pittacus Lore is a character in this fiction—but the first-person narrator is someone else entirely. Maybe this is a natural extension of lightly hidden actual author James Frey's drive to fictionalize his life, but literature it ain't. (Science fiction. 11-13)

     

 

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-196955-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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