Think school is boring? Not for these futuristic kids! Here at SciHi, science, science fiction and adventure combine for our intrepid protagonists. And this will be a very “timely” adventure indeed .
In a near future world where technology is a bit more advanced than our own, Sidney Jamison is just your average curious kid with a penchant for taking things apart and figuring out how they work . . . and maybe getting them back together again. Okay, so Sidney isn’t quite so average, and neither is his school. Fourteen year old Sid is attending the elite school for budding scientific minds, Sci Hi where he and his friends, Penny and Hari can’t seem to keep themselves out of trouble–or adventures! It’s an ordinary day at SciHi, creating wild inventions and hosting nanobot competitions . . . until the entire Goddard Island is thrown millions of years back in time.
Clearly time travel is not only possible–it’s being used as sabotage! Someone doesn’t want SciHi to ever reach it’s home time again. Now the brilliant minds of SciHi must find a way to jump the entire island back to the future! But while the professors are busy working out the particulars of time travel to undo what has been done, surely there’s some time to check out the wildlife. After all, wouldn’t you want to see some real live dinosaurs if you had the opportunity? It’s a class field trip even Ms. Frizzle couldn’t imagine. Sid, Penny and Hari not only get into some close confrontations with crazy critters, they make an even more stunning discovery . . . one that will mean everything to Sid. Of course, the nefarious Alchemists are lurking in the shadows, ready to do whatever they can to disrupt SciHi and forward their own goals!
Time travel books are not incredibly unusual in middle-grade fiction. But there are fairly few that take a SF approach. Timothy J. Bradley captures that idea of the fun of time travel . . . going back to meet dinosaurs and other ancient creatures face to face. Seriously, when you were a kid, did you think about time travel and think “oh I wish I would be zapped back to the 1950s?” If you did, I’m suitably impressed. But when I was a kid, I dreamed of having that time machine that’d take me back in time to the pages of my dinosaur books . . . The author takes pains to be up to date with current prehistoric knowledge and to give us a range of creatures rather than the cliched T-Rex and Triceratops style of creatures anyone knows about if they’ve heard of dinosaurs. With it’s shorter length and black and white illustrations, this is perfect for those younger or more reluctant readers who are looking for an exciting story but intimidated by too much narrative. Like the last two books, the author mixes up the illustrations, some being full scenes, while others are a diagram of a tool, building or vehicle. The benefit of having this novel illustrated by it’s author is that you know your getting a clear image of the things Timothy Bradley is describing.
For those interested, I reviewed the first book in this series, Hive Mind (2013) here. And the second book, Ripple Effect (2014) here. In the first review I explained why books like this are so essential to make available to young readers. They are series books, meant to be read as an ongoing series of adventures, much like other fantasy adventure series and mystery series out there, but the key is they are not simply in a science fiction universe–the stories explore science and scientific concepts. In order to inspire the next generation of readers with ambitions of being scientists, explorers, innovators and engineers, we have to provide them stories that help them imagine what that might mean. Provide them with what if’s that can prompt youngsters to one day want to invent a time travel tool, or design their own nanobot.
Adventure and science fun combine from page one in this third book. Sid and his crew are designing nanobots to fight against one another . . . which is wild when you consider how tiny those bots actually are! When the entire island is zapped back in time, there’s more at stake than merely a wild trip through time. Sid’s back story with his missing father and the ongoing fight against the Alchemists is going to come to a head. More than ever before Alchemists and the scientists and students of Goddard Island are going to clash with one another. There’s plenty here for the readers who simply want to read about time travel into the prehistoric, but there’s also a continuing story thread that will tie this book back to the earlier two . . . and lead eventually into the fourth story of Sid and his friends.
The back of the book contains a Reader’s Guide chock full of information, discussions to have about the book, a suggested science project and a short quiz as to whether you would survive prehistory. This book is a great way of tying fiction in with fact and coaxing kids to delve into nonfiction that will touch on topics mentioned here.
I hope kids will pick these up and read them, and be inspired to discover, invent and explore!
Here are a few nonfiction reads to go along with the title:
When Dinos Dawned, Mammals Got Munched and Pterosaurs Took Flight: A Cartoon PreHistory of Life in the Triassic by Hannah Bonner (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2012) Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future with 25 Projects by Kathy Ceceri (Nomad Press, 2012) Paleontology: The Study of Prehistoric Life by Susan H. Grey (Scholastic, 2012) Note: An advanced copy of this work was provided by the author....more
Review originally posted at Views from the Tesseract: http://shanshad1.wordpress.com/2014/0... I’ve had this book in my pile of TBRs for a while. And IReview originally posted at Views from the Tesseract: http://shanshad1.wordpress.com/2014/0... I’ve had this book in my pile of TBRs for a while. And I admit, I was avoiding it. Because . . . well, it’s pink and has a girl and unicorn on the cover. And while I’ve had my fascination with unicorns over the years, as an adult I have little patience for the terribly twee sorts of stories that often involve girls and unicorns. Then a friend mentioned I really should read it. And that Peter Beagle had done an introduction. And while I may have limited patience for most unicorn-related fiction out there, Peter Beagle has written The Last Unicorn–which is quite possibly one of my favorite fantasy tales of all time. And I knew right then, if Peter Beagle had written the introduction, then needed to sit down and read this book!
For those who may not be familiar Phoebe and Her Unicorn began life as comic strip titled Girl which won the Amazon’s Comic Strip Superstar competition in 2009. Her comic Girl became Heavenly Nostrils and the story morphed into the friendship between a girl and her unicorn. While the strip is available as a syndicated webcomic strip at GoComics, readers will now have a collection of the strips edited and streamlined into a single volume. Dana Simpson has many fans for her latest comic strip work, including Peter Beagle himself.
The premise of this comic-strip story is that Phoebe, a nine-year old girl, encounters a unicorn and manages to manipulate her way into having the unicorn become her best friend. The strip follows Phoebe and her new friend, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils as they play and plot and occasionally encounter Phoebe’s family or classmates. So we have a slightly geeky and definitely weird Phoebe, and the narcissistic Marigold (because she is, after all, a unicorn, the epitome of loveliness and awesomeness!) . The interaction of these two characters gives the creator plenty of material to turn into witty dialog and wry humor. This work is being compared to Calvin and Hobbes, but while the two strips have some similarities (one real-world character, one slightly unreal character as best friends, clever dialogue) I don’t really feel they’re that similar beyond the surface. Phoebe’s unicorn is very real, to the point of interacting with the girl’s parents and classmates. She’s not an imaginary creature, or a toy. Marigold uses her “Shield of Boringness” to prevent humans from becoming overwhelmed at seeing a unicorn. Phoebe lacks Calvin’s more precociousness and elaborate plans–she isn’t extraordinarily talented, intelligent or even extraordinarily bad, she’s just a little awkward, a little weird and a whole lot lonely nine-year-old girl. She manages to win a wish from Marigold when her skipping stone hits the unicorn in the head and snaps her free of staring at her reflection. Phoebe wishes to be the unicorn’s best friend, and thus begins the journey!
This is a story that has it’s wellsprings in a dream that many, many girls probably had when they were younger. I know I spent much of my fourth and fifth grade years drawing unicorns. But rather than being the saccharine sweet story of that dream-come-true, the comic turns it into something much more witty and fun for middle-grade audiences, as well as older adult readers like me. Neither character is perfect (although Marigold would like to think she is), but they complement each other well. Despite Marigold’s narcissism and conviction that humans are ugly, she does come to share an actual friendship with Phoebe. In turn Phoebe puts up with Marigold’s narcissism because if you’d spent your childhood day-dreaming of unicorns, wouldn’t you be willing do forgive a lot to have one as a friend? I love the pure fun of it all. From Phoebe’s crazy plans and off-beat style, to Marigold’s tendency to take everything humans say a bit too literally.
Like any good comic strip writer, Dana Simpson has honed her craft, the clean lines and brevity of text are testament to the work put in. Marigold’s form and elegance echo the unicorn from the animated The Last Unicorn, even with just a few lines to depict her form. Phoebe, on the other hand is a freckled, gap-toothed girl who marches to the beat of her own drummer. The collection of strips includes the Sunday strips that are outside the particular story going on in the regular strips, but it doesn’t break up the flow that much. Any reader who enjoys the comic is not going to be put off by the occasional Sunday strip.
I can tell you now that there are plenty of my young library patrons who will see the cover and grab this to read, because –UNICORNS! A perfect fit for the younger middle grade readers who are outgrowing simple, sweet stories and looking for something funnier to read, but still want to stick to the fantasy genre. I just wish the cover wasn’t quite so pink . . . because there are readers out there who would love this collection, but might not get past the cover. Given that the comic strip’s online iteration has more strips and story arcs, this is hopefully only the first of the Heavenly Nostrils chronicles and that we’ll see more volumes in the future!
Note: An advanced reader copy was provided by the publisher....more