Campy, 1960s-style science fiction mixes with zany, kid-friendly ridiculousness for extreme fun.

CAKES IN SPACE

From the Not-So-Impossible Tales series , Vol. 2

The American debut of an acclaimed British comedy.

Astra’s family sets out on a 199-year journey to planet Nova Mundi. To survive the trip, the passengers will spend the voyage sleeping in a cryogenically frozen state. But before going nearly two centuries between dinner and breakfast, Astra wants a bedtime snack. The ship’s food synthesizer’s so much fun that she requests the ultimate cake—which apparently breaks the machine, sticking it on a “WORKING” message. Astra dodges responsibility and goes to bed, only to wake up early as the only conscious human on the ship. She soon encounters the monstrous, sentient cakes the synthesizer has spent decades evolving—and worse, the synthesizer’s malfunctions have put other essential ship functions at risk! While evading the hungry cakes on her quest to get to the ship’s control room and set things to right, Astra encounters a terrifying-looking extraterrestrial life-form that’s boarded the ship and is then caught by spoon-loving outer-space salvagers (who have mistaken the sleeping people for dead and declared the drifting ship abandoned). Astra must clean up her mess by stopping both the cakes and the aliens. Vibrant, lively illustrations highlight the ludicrousness of it all. The resolution’s weird enough to fit in perfectly with the rest of the story.

Campy, 1960s-style science fiction mixes with zany, kid-friendly ridiculousness for extreme fun. (Science fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38792-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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