Not nearly as nonconformist—or funny—as the title promises.

NOT SO NORMAL NORBERT

In the United State of Earth, where difference is a disease and creativity is a crime, Norbert cracks a joke—big mistake.

Seventh-grader Norbert Riddle lives a dreary life in Loving Leader’s authoritarian regime, unsuccessfully searching for his parents since they disappeared seven years ago. When he impetuously performs an impression of Loving Leader for his classmates, the Truth Police descend, and Norbert is exiled to “the Astro-Nuts prison on planet Zorquat Three.” Clocking in at 300-plus pages with little real action or humor, this attempt at a humorous twist on the dystopian genre falls short across the board. With just a glimpse of the dictatorship compared to the vast majority of the book describing the prison, some readers will have a difficult time inhabiting Norbert’s perspective—is an ice cream sundae unusual because it’s breakfast or because it’s something he’s never had before? Stilted phrasing, particularly to create tension at the end of chapters, backfires and makes the text drag. Constant use of language casually dismissive of mental diversity assumes an outmoded sensibility. Primary characters are described by hair color and have (paper-) white skin in the illustrations.

Not nearly as nonconformist—or funny—as the title promises. (Dystopian adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-46541-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A young tennis champion becomes the target of revenge.

In this sequel to Legacy and the Queen (2019), Legacy Petrin and her friends Javi and Pippa have returned to Legacy’s home province and the orphanage run by her father. With her friends’ help, she is in training to defend her championship when they discover that another player, operating under the protection of High Consul Silla, is presenting herself as Legacy. She is so convincing that the real Legacy is accused of being an imitation. False Legacy has become a hero to the masses, further strengthening Silla’s hold, and it becomes imperative to uncover and defeat her. If Legacy is to win again, she must play her imposter while disguised as someone else. Winning at tennis is not just about money and fame, but resisting Silla’s plans to send more young people into brutal mines with little hope of better lives. Legacy will have to overcome her fears and find the magic that allowed her to claim victory in the past. This story, with its elements of sports, fantasy, and social consciousness that highlight tensions between the powerful and those they prey upon, successfully continues the series conceived by late basketball superstar Bryant. As before, the tennis matches are depicted with pace and spirit. Legacy and Javi have brown skin; most other characters default to White.

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949520-19-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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