Every year at the New York Public Library a list of the Best Books for Kids is crafted. I had a peek at this year's list and grabbed a few to read and review for the blog. Don't be surprised if you see a lot of picture books in the coming weeks. :-)
When I saw the illustration style of Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann I knew that I had to get that book into my hands. By the time I got through the first couple of pages I was looking up the other books by him and requesting them to be sent my way. I understand that each person has a different idea of what is aesthetically pleasing to them and that not every person will find particular styles of illustration appealing. With that being said, I cannot see how someone could read anything by Kuhlmann and not instantly fall in love with his artistic technique and his unique storytelling style. His fascination with the way machines work and how industrialization has changed the course of history has led him to create fictional stories about real advances in technology using animals such as mice and moles. There's certainly an element of anthropomorphism being used here but the animals also exhibit those traits specific to them (the mice meet at a cheese shop for example). This is another author/illustrator whose work is so gorgeous that I want to hang it on my walls. This story specifically deals with a mouse who is mesmerized by the moon. He dreams of traveling there so that he can prove to the other mice that it is not made of cheese. There are obstacles to overcome not least of which is that it's dangerous to be a mice who wants to break the mold (and build a rocket that can actually get him into space). It's a story of perseverance, determination, and rocketry. I highly recommend this to little ones who are curious about how things work and that dream of one day being astronauts...or to people who just really love mice. 10/10
Kip from midwest Centerville USA works the summer before college as a pharmacy soda jerk, and wins an authentic stripped-down spacesuit in a soap contest. He answers a distress radio call from Peewee, scrawny rag doll-clutching genius aged 11. With the comforting cop Mother Thing, three-eyed tripod Wormfaces kidnap them to the Moon and Pluto.
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Note: This version is not currently available on Audible, but physical copies can occasionally be found. The Buy links will take you to the available version.
SERIES INFO: This book is standalone.
If you have read and disliked others of Heinlein's "Juveniles," you aren't likely to appreciate this one either. But it is one of my favorites. I like the main characters alot; and, except for one section (see below), I really enjoyed their journey.
Kip: The boy-next-door who goes on a marvelous adventures and proves that he's a hero. Although he is a bit "gee whiz," he's fun to spend time with. He is definitely a character who thinks, which is something I love.
One of my favorite episodes of The Next Generation was the one where Data created a daughter named Lal. Unfortunately, that episode ended rather sadly for the android but in David R. George III's The Embrace of Cold Architects this has been rectified. However, there have been other casualties due to the Borg and now Will Riker is captain of the Enterprise. This book continues the questions raised by the episode The Offspring mentioned above such as 'Do androids have rights or are they property of Starfleet?'. Full of moral dilemmas and governmental obfuscation, this story will have you shaking your fist at 'the man' in no time. 9/10
I'm going to be honest and say that The Tears of Eridanus by Steve Mollmann and Michael Schuster was probably my least favorite book from all 3 volumes. This universe's central power is controlled by the Andorians and Sulu is the captain of one of their ships. As mentioned previously, I had little to no knowledge of this alien species but from what I read they aren't going to be one of my favorites. Sulu is tasked with visiting a planet where the residents have captured a science team tasked with observing the native peoples. The inhabitants are viewed as primitive and dangerous with little chance of their being admitted into the Interstellar Union. Sulu has a vested interest as his daughter is one of the members of the captured team. This book ended without any kind of real conclusion and with a barely discernible plotline. It was pretty meh in my opinion. 5/10
And finally there's Honor in the Night written by Scott Pearson. This covers the events of Tarsus and the conflict between the Klingon Empire and the Federation. Dr. McCoy (yay Bones!) is a minor player in this book but it's really Nilz Baris who steals the show...and a certain man named Arne Darvin. A reporter is trying to piece together the story of Nilz Baris and his role in the Klingon-Federation alliance by interviewing key players in his past. There are a lot of flashback scenes and many, many secrets are revealed. It read just like an episode of Trek and felt totally believable as canon to me. 9/10
I was mostly unfamiliar with Andorians except beyond knowing they were blue, hairy, and had antennae. The Chimes at Midnight by Geoff Trowbridge gave a most thorough background into this alien race. The reader follows two separate characters: Thelin (an Andorian) and David Marcus (James T. Kirk's estranged son). Thelin is Kirk's closest friend and First Officer of the Enterprise. David is a scientist who creates the Genesis Project in the hopes of making uninhabitable worlds fertile and livable for those looking to colonize new areas of space. When the secret of this innovation is leaked to the Klingons war is threatened. (Note: There's a rather explicit scene of torture in this book so if you're squeamish be aware.) Most troubling of all in this universe, Spock never lived beyond childhood. :'-( 7/10
War, war, war. A Gutted World by Keith R.A. DeCandido is chock full of violence and destruction as war rages across the galaxy. The Cardassians still occupy Terok Nor (DS9 reference for the uninitiated) and the Klingons and Romulans are at each other's throats. The Federation is pulled into the fray and devastating losses are piling up on all sides. Kira Nerys with the aid of Garak and Odo are trying to convince the Federation that all is not as it seems. I don't want to give too much away because it's pretty spoiler-y for Deep Space Nine even though it's an alternate reality timeline. 7/10
Brave New World written by Chris Roberson was absolutely brilliant. In this iteration, Data is not the only Soong-type android in existence. In fact, he's one of the earliest of many. When the Federation decides to limit their rights to full citizenship Data and many of his fellows resign their Starfleet commissions and drop off of the grid entirely. The story picks up 10 years later when Data inexplicably returns with a request for assistance from the Enterprise. Many familiar faces are still onboard including Chief Engineer Wesley Crusher and First Officer Geordi La Forge. (They've also perfected brain uploads in this universe which is frankly terrifying.) I so badly want to tell you the big shocker of this book but that would really kill it for you. Just read it! 10/10