While the coding instruction’s as top-notch as ever, in this installment it’s interpersonal dynamics and characters that,...

POTIONS & PARAMETERS

From the Secret Coders series , Vol. 5

After Robots & Repeats (2017) the heroes code their way into and out of the villainous Dr. One-Zero’s clutches.

After Josh takes point in coding an escape from the vicious ducks with teeth, the coders find Hopper’s father—but unfortunately, he and the other captives have been fed the mind-wiping Green Pop. Even worse, Dr. One-Zero steals Light-Light. They’re trapped with bottles of the Green Pop when Josh finds a hint for the lock’s passcode (interrupting Eni’s earnestly awkward romantic confession to Hopper). The resulting binary-to-ASCII puzzle makes good use of graphics for a quick, crystal clear recap on binary. Liberated, the three kids face pressures—Hopper’s mother wants them to leave town; Eni’s threatened with transfer if his sisters catch him with his friend; Josh feels like a third wheel in the friendship—but only they, and Professor Bee, can stop One-Zero’s latest diabolical scheme. Bee also reveals the truth behind his noselessness in a wild surprise crossover with Edwin Abbott’s Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884). The cliffhanger sees the multiracial trio on the verge of coding a portal into Flatland, and it’s followed by a comedic short that uses coded repeats to find Josh’s dog.

While the coding instruction’s as top-notch as ever, in this installment it’s interpersonal dynamics and characters that, satisfyingly, take center stage. (Graphic science fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-608-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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