WEBSITE OF THE WARPED WIZARD

Two young computer gamers experience some all-too-realistic on-line effects in this irreverent series opener. Tired of being “killed” every 20 minutes playing “Gopher,” Jessica takes her friend Matthew’s advice and logs on to a new web game dubbed “Medieval Madness.” Suddenly she and Matthew are actually in the game, squired through a medieval forest by Dennis, a surfer-dude centaur who shows them the ropes, gives Matthew a magic wand (“ ‘Got it on my last job. I rode around with Harry, this English kid. I forget his last name: Trotter, Rotter. Something like that . . . Bit of a noo-noo, if you know what I mean.’ ”), and sends the young folk racing off to visit Heaven (“ ‘Hey! That looks like Elvis!’ ”), the Other Place (which turns out to be a shopping mall), a dungeon, and finally the Chamber of Secrets, where Merlin the Magician’s evil clone Merlon lurks, plotting to take over the real world by turning it into a global consumer economy. Intrepidly challenging Merlon to a round of “Gopher,” Jessica not only racks up a monumental score, but hacks into her opponent’s character files and dumps them into the Trash. Goodbye bad guy. Shelly adds an occasional lighthearted illustration. Steering clear of both jargon and explicit gore, Kimmel dishes up a fast-paced caper that even clueless adults will enjoy. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-46656-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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FIDDLIN' SAM

In a family memoir of the most affecting kind, readers are invited to a long-ago time in the Ozark Mountains and the story of a musician who owned “the clothes on his back and a fine old lionhead fiddle.” Fiddlin’ Sam is the inheritor of the peripatetic, minstrel’s life of his father, who taught Sam his art, saying, “This ain’t a gift, Son. It’s a loan. You gotta pass the music along.” Sam accepts the food that appreciative people give him, but politely refuses their offer of a bed. When a rattler bites him, Sam fears he has failed his calling; the music will die with him. In the feverish time that follows, someone takes care of him, a young man whom Sam hopes will take up the gift and carry it along—but the boy has other plans. In the years that follow, Sam meets another young man on the road who reminds him of the first one, and, indeed, is his son. Their path together lasts long enough for Sam to pass along his gift and its joys and burdens before he dies. An endpiece dedication allows readers to glimpse aspects of the story that are based in truth. A rhythmic refrain underscores the emotions of the story, and even acts as the vehicle of the ascension of Sam’s soul at death. Gerig’s watercolors deliver the scenic beauty of the region and carry their own version of a familial tribute. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1999

ISBN: 0-87358-742-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rising Moon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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