Posts tagged ‘science fiction’

STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT

Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13

Written by Barbara Roman

Illustrated by Vladimir Cebu

Ten-year-old Alicia is shopping with her mother for new lamps. Her mood is upbeat as she walks through Walker’s Furniture store two weeks before Christmas. Suddenly, she is mesmerized by a beautiful Christmas tree which appears in the middle of the floor. Alicia stares at its beautiful star and is whisked away to the 13th floor on an elevator that opens to a light bulb factory. She finds herself in a factory where light bulbs are retired after they stop working. Alicia meets Carelia, the fairy goddess who oversees the factory. Carelia informs Alicia that the light bulbs must pass a test to determine whether they might become stars and that she needs Alicia to help her. Alicia is confused and upset. She doesn’t understand why she is needed and how she wound up in a place where there is no past or tomorrow, but she will learn much about unique personalities, utilizing our talents, and working cooperatively. What is expected of her and why was she chosen? Will Alicia ever get back to her world? Did she ever leave it?

This book is a charming fantasy, mystery, and science fiction read. It might be considered both a chapter book or a short story. The fifty-page length makes it a good choice for reluctant readers. Cebu creates dazzling illustrations and the large font size make it a good choice for beginning readers, while the intricate plot and well-developed characters will appeal to middle-grade and young adult audiences.

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ROCKET RUCKUS

Sascha Martin’s Rocket Ship

Written by John Arthur Nichol

Illustrated by Manuela Pentangelo

 

Sascha Martin is a second-grade genius. One day he brings a rocket ship to class and places it on a table with a sign that says, “Do not touch.” Well, you can guess what happens when one of the students pushes the button. It launches into space creating all manner of havoc in the school. The rocket tears holes in the walls, the roof, and damages the athletic fields. It carries a few teachers as well as Sascha into the atmosphere to the horror of the those watching from the ground. Will they successfully return to earth?

This book is part of a series about the exploits of Sascha. It is written in rhyme, which sometimes appeared a bit off, though these rhymes could be peculiar to Australia. Illustrations are delightfully clever and sharp. My rating was lowered in part because the book contains a few errors in punctuation and grammar, but many middle-grade students who enjoy science fiction, adventure, and humor will find it an easy and enjoyable read.

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SPY DOGS AND SCI-FI

Spy Dogs (1): A Suspicious Neighbor

Written by Amma Lee

 

This book is the first in a series of spy dog detective mysteries. Puggy is an adorable pet who is totally devoted to Bill, his human master. When Puggy notices a new neighbor dragging a large black plastic bag into the house next door, he immediately becomes suspicious. Puggy peeks into the neighbor’s window and discovers lots of computers, strange mechanical devices, and caged dogs. Puggy learns that many dogs in the area have recently been kidnapped so he develops a plan to spy on the neighbor and unravel the mystery. Puggy is astonished to learn that this neighbor is actually an alien who has a plan to use the dogs to control humans. The faithful dog must mislead his master and risk his own life in an attempt to unravel the mystery. This book is the first in a series and ends on a cliffhanger.

This series is of interest to mystery and adventure enthusiasts. I believe it will especially appeal to middle-grade audiences.

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CHOOSING YOUR OWN WAY

The Village Alien

Written by Steve and Kathleen Donoho

On a sunny Saturday morning in Zionsville, Indiana, the protagonist and his younger brother, Andy head off to Lions Park on their bikes. The reader will determine the outcome of this interactive alien adventure. The boys encounter an alien spaceship landing in the park, setting the table for the rest of the story. Readers are given three choices at the end of each chapter. Plot outcome changes according to the reader’s decision.

This book affords readers the opportunity to revisit the scene several times, changing the outcome each time. It would be fun for siblings or friends to share it together. I like the fact that children can see that making choices affect outcomes and the characters. It allows them the opportunity to take risks or to play it safe.

Recommended for middle-grade readers. The length of sentences and manageable vocabulary will appeal to reluctant readers. It might also be a good choice for a classroom discussion group.

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PULLING THE PLUG

Hubert in Heaven: A high-tech angel gets his wings

Written by Barbara Roman

Hubert is a hologram in a video game being shot toward the moon. He misses the mark and finds himself in heaven instead. The Grand Master of the Transition works with newly arrived angels, assigning them tasks to achieve before earning their wings. Hubert depends on his computer. He finds himself a failure painting rainbows because he enhances the colors. The Grand Master patiently assigns Hubert a new task, that of choir director, but computer generated music from earth does not cut it in heaven. Hubert is given another job, the very important one of shining up the stars and preparing the Star of Bethlehem for Christmas. This results in the greatest failure of all. Will Hubert ever find his unique talent? Can he learn to fit in with the human inhabitants of heaven?

This book is a quick read. There are a few illustrations to assist younger children in following the tale and its lessons, but the story is more suited to middle grade readers. It serves as a reminder that each person possesses unique talents, if he is willing to work hard to develop them. The author reminds readers of what can be accomplished without computers; sometimes pulling the plug is not a bad idea.

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TRANSFORMATION FROM WITHIN

Raywyn and the Golden Bow

Written by Angelos Ashes

Young Raywyn and her parents are journeying from London to Australia by sea when they are shipwrecked. Raywyn has washed ashore where she is discovered by beachcombers. When she wakes up in the hospital, she realizes that her parents are dead. Raywyn meets her uncle, Patrick Blake, who will become her guardian. She is whisked away to his home named Black Swan at the southern tip of Australia.

Once there, Raywyn is immersed in a totally different environment. Patrick and his friend Rollo introduce her to archery, philosophy, literature and meditation. Raywyn discovers how to meditate and transform herself from within. The reader participates in her spiritual journey to the netherworld, the City of Light and the Ganges. Raywyn discovers how and when to fight. Her spiritual journey takes the reader on a roller coaster ride immersed in fantasy, science fiction and reality filled with interesting characters and life lessons. Recommended for readers ages eight and older who enjoy these genres.

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TRAPPED INSIDE A GOOD BOOK

The War of the Stories

Written by Galia Koplis

This book is an interesting mixture of genres, science fiction, fairy tale, and time travel. The plot is an unusual one combining many themes that will appeal to a variety of middle grade, teen and adult audiences.

Shirley is the protagonist. Her best friend Orelia is retelling the story to us many years after it happened. On the first day of school, Miss Brown has asked each member of the class to relate an interesting story that they have read during the summer. Shirley is embarrassed because she does not have one. She is given an extra day to find one. When Shirley retreats to the library for her search, the adventure ensues.

Shirley becomes trapped in Storyland. Here the short stories are less important than the large and famous ones. Royalty, commoners, and warriors are engrossed in life and death struggles for survival and dominance. Shirley decides to help a princess find her true love, and persuade a shy story to overcome his diffidence. The tides of battle are constantly changing; Shirley experiences difficulty distinguishing right from wrong and fact from fiction. How will she fare in the battle? Will Shirley escape Storyland, and if she is successful how will her life and those of the characters in Storyland be changed forever?

Young and older readers will be able to look in the mirror and see themselves in the pages of this fantasy that has more elements of realism than appearing on the surface. This tale is fun and pleasant to read, and it contains many layers of meaning embedded deep within its surface. Recommended for anyone age nine and older who enjoys fantasy and is up for a unique read.

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