Complicated, retrograde, and very sparkly.

SAGE AND THE JOURNEY TO WISHWORLD

From the Star Darlings series , Vol. 1

A new student at the academy for Wish-Granters joins a specially selected group for secret missions.

After opening pages consisting of short profiles of the 12 students that the series will follow, the story begins with Sage’s arrival at Starling Academy, the prestigious school where Starlings learn to travel to the Wishworld (implied Earth) to harness positive energy by granting Wishlings’ wishes. Further exposition (clumsily framed with “As every Starling knows,” “As we all know,” and “As everyone knows”) attempts to explain the elaborate wish mechanics. During orientation, Sage is selected with 11 others for a secret meeting. The headmistress tells them about Starland’s energy crisis and that she’s experimenting with sending student visitors to Wishworld in an attempt to drastically increase the levels of positive energy. She has selected this group of students to be the Star Darlings. The already-convoluted world’s mechanics further complicate with the revelation of a prophecy. Soon Sage gets the honor of the first trip to Wishworld to fulfill a wish, which is difficult, as she must correctly identify both the wisher and the specific wish. Humor arises from her incomplete education on Wishworld culture and tension, from the mission’s near-failure. While some readers will appreciate the constant clothing descriptions and glittery references, many will be left cold by the heroine’s insistence that science and math are boring.

Complicated, retrograde, and very sparkly. (Fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-6643-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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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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