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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SNOW BEAR

In this sweetly sentimental story set in the frozen twilight of an Arctic spring, George (Morning, Noon, and Night, p. 699, etc.) tells of an Inuit girl who goes out to hunt. Bessie Nivyek sets out with her big brother, Vincent, to hunt for food; in a twist out of McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal, Bessie bumps into a young bear, and they frolic: climbing, sliding, somersaulting, and cuddling. Vincent spies the tracks of his little sister and follows, wary of the mother bear; the mother bear is just as wary of Vincent. Out of the water rears danger to both the child and cub—a huge male polar bear. The mother bear warns her cub; it runs away, as does Bessie. Brother and sister head back home, “to eat, go to school, and learn the wisdom of the Arctic like Eskimo children do.” The brief text is lyrical and the illustrations are striking, with an impressively varied palette of white, in blue, green, yellow, and gold. Children who note that Vincent goes home empty-handed will wonder why he didn’t hunt any of the polar bears that were within range. While children will enjoy this romantic view of Bessie and the bear, those seeking a more realistic representation of life in this harsh environment will be unsatisfied. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7868-0456-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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THIS IS SOCCER

As two young teams face off, a spare, staccato text relates the ever-changing action on the soccer field. Blackstone starts with the basics: “This is a soccer ball. This is a cleat. And this is a soccer player.” Next, she emphasizes the fancy footwork involved and introduces the teams. Then comes the kickoff, and some “running and jumping, bumping and sliding, . . . dribble, pass, pass, dribble, faster, faster, dribble, pass—KICK! This is an overhead shot.” With a potential goal, the goalie launches himself into space trying to catch the ball, the crowd goes wild, and the ball lands in the net. Blackstone (This Is Maine, 1995, etc.) emphasizes that there’s always more shooting than scoring in soccer; sometimes the final score is “zero to zero.” O’Brien’s illustrations capture the feeling of full-tilt playing, showing quick turns and sudden stops, moving in for close-ups and backing up for a distant pan of the whole field. In a humorous visual subplot, an unperturbed fan sets out his lawn chair on the title page and sleeps through the entire game. It’s a bonus in an already inviting introduction to the fast-paced and fleet-footed game of soccer. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-2801-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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