Saturday, March 12, 2022

Where the Sky Lives

Dilloway, Margaret. Where the Sky Lives
March 8th 2022 by Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Tuesday lives in staff housing near Zion National Park, where her single mother, Dana, works as an archaeologist. Tuesday's best friend, Carter, lives nearby, since his stepfather, Grant, is a law enforcement park ranger. Tuesday loves her life at the park, but misses her uncle Ezra, who has recently passed away. Her mother is also struggling with this loss, and also is worried about her job. Funding is always difficult, and she's been furloughed several times, which has lead her to investigate jobs at universities. There are big changes to the park as well; a local farm, Hedges Ranch, has been sold to a developer who is going to build high density housing. While the environmental impact, especially on the night sky, is going to be devastating, there's no stopping the developers. This doesn't mean that Tuesday and Carter don't try. Tuesday gets a wooden box camera that a resident hipster artist has thrown away in a huff, and starts to take pictures. She talks Dana into letting her have an Instagram account, and tries to rally support for saving Hedges from development. Rich and famous influencer, Lyla, is visiting the park and gets interested in Tuesday's project, so has her tons of followers interested in it as well. Tuesday is sure that a note her uncle Ezra wrote from the hospital might hold the key to saving the park, and works to investigate what the note might mean. Dana is still concerned about her job prospects, so has applied for a job at South Dakota State University. Will Tuesday be able to save the park by solving her uncle's riddles before she and her mother leave?
Strengths: The description of the national park, and Tuesdays rambles across it in her attempts to save it from development are the best part of this novel. Of course, it made me want to go visit Utah, but also made me want to stay home in order to protect the fragile environment of the park. The small community was an interesting one, and Carter and his family, the artist, and the graduate students working on various projects all added an interesting dimension to the book. Young readers who are fans of Instagram will be enthralled with young Lyla's influence, fame, and wealth, and be glad that she is trying to protect the area. People traveling to beautiful natural places to take photos to post on social media is a big thing, apparently, and it doesn't always end well. Dana's struggles with employment are very realistic, and she's very lucky to get a university job! 
Weaknesses: Emotionally, this book is more on the lyrical, contemplative side. I wish it had been more upbeat and adventurous. There was a lot of suspense about the uncle's death that really didn't go anywhere. The mother's grief caused her to not take care of Tuesday as much as Tuesday needed her to. 
What I really think: This cover reminds me a bit of Swinarski's What Happens Next, another quiet story with a very particular place for its setting, and the national park setting reminded me a bit of Bowling's The Canyon's Edge. Fans of King's The Year We Fell from Space or Haydu's One Jar of Magic will be intrigued by the mystery as Tuesday struggles with coping with her uncle's death.
Rusu, Meredith. The Xtreme Xploits of the Xplosive Xmas (The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants TV) 
September 7th 2021 by Scholastic Inc.
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

George and Harold LOVE Christmas, even if their sweaters are itchy, they have to listen to boring stories over and over, and their friend Melvin is obsessed with Ham Nog. They write a comic book about Mega Blissmas that includes lasers and robots, but are told this is unrealistic and that the way to make Christmas better is to help other people. This doesn't make the boring school pageant any less painful, and they highjack the storyline, angering Principal Krupp. Instead of scrubbing toilets, they decide to use Melvin's Time Toad 2000 to go back and change Christmas. They meet with Santa and pitch some of their ideas. When they return to the present, they find that Blissmas is now a thing, but is it an improvement on the traditional holiday celebrations?

Jacked Santa and battling Christmas robots will insure that this graphic novel adaptation of the Netflix series based on Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series will be a hit with young children. It's a little closer to the original story than Ball's Clifford the Big Red Dog: The Movie  graphic novel, and George and Harold remain true to their artistic ways. I don't remember the character of Melvin from the books, but he does appear. He has a much larger role in this book, and Captain Underpants (aka Principal Krupp) has a nice turn, wrapped in aluminum foil. 

There's plenty of goofy fun, both in real life and in the boys' comics, and enough adventure to keep the pages turning even without Flip-o-Rama. There's also a decent message about the inherent value of Christmas and its traditions; I wonder if Netflix has to adhere to the old criteria for children's programming that they have to include some educational content? I lost track of the requirements for children's programming after reading a lot of books on the subject in the early 2000s!

The colors are very vibrant, and apparently align with the slightly reimaged style of the television show. The boys' Christmas sweaters are a nice touch, as if Captain Underpants' holly printed cape. The glossy pages probably include some screen shot type art from the program; I haven't seen the Netflix series, but this is fairly standard practice with book versions of shows. 

When my children were young, I didn't allow them to watch much television. In order for them to keep current on movies and other screen activity, I would allow them to read BOOKS about Disney movies and magazines about video games. That way, they could talk to friends about media, but not have to spend time on it themselves. This graphic novel adaptation of the Captain Underpants show would be a great way to appease children who want more installments about their favorite literary character but don't have a subscription to Netflix!
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. I didn't even know there was a Captain Underpants show! I have seen this book around- but somehow missed that connection. Thanks for sharing.