Literary Genres: Science Fiction

Armstrong, Jennifer  and Butcher, Nancy.  THE KEEPERS OF THE FLAME.  Fire-Us Trilogy,
    Book 2.   New York: HarperCollins, 2002.  231p.  0-06-029412-4, hb., $15.99    Gr. 6-12    FIC

    Five years after a deadly virus decimates the world population, ten surviving children in Florida attempt to find answers to the tragedy by journeying to Washington D.C. to find the President.  Along the way, they unexpectedly encounter a band of adults who also survived.  At first elated with this discovery, the children, ages five to fifteen, soon realize that something is wrong.  The adults have formed a religious cult: The Keepers of the Flame.  The children are separated and not allowed to see each other.  They are given biblical names, and told how to dress and behave.  If they refuse or ask questions, there are consequences.  The children know they are in danger.  They suspect the Keepers know something about the origin of the virus.  They want to escape, but they are under constant supervision.  If they can escape, will the Keepers hunt them down?  If they can evade the Keepers, can they survive the perilous journey to Washington D.C? Will they find the President, and can he give them the answers they seek?
    This exciting second book of the Fire-Us trilogy is as taut and fast-paced as the first.  The danger to the children in this book is from adults instead of nature.  Reading the first book would be helpful in understanding the characters and situation.  Highly recommended for middle school or high school students.
    Maureen Booth; Library Media Specialist, Southfield High School, Southfield (MI) Public Schools

Coville, Bruce.  THE MONSTERS OF MORLEY MANOR.  Orlando, FL:  Magic Carpet
    Books, 2001.  223p.   0-14-204705-0  pbk; $5.95  Gr. 3-6   J FIC

    Morley Manor is the creepy house down the street from Anthony and Sarah's in Owl's Roost, Nebraska.  When the kids buy a strange wooden box at the Manor's estate sale, a madcap, other-world adventure begins.   The box holds five tiny and strange-looking people who appear freeze-dried.  When Anthony accidentally spills water on the, they come alive.  Anthonly, Sarah, Gramma, and their deceased Grandpa become deeply involved with aliens in a struggle to save the world and the universe.
    Coville has written more than eighty novels for young people and this one is a sure hit.  It has all the ingredients that young adventure readers enjoy - a strange mansion, aliens, magic, travel between planets, and a happy, although predictable, ending.  I recommend purchase of this title.
    Linda Cooley, Director, L'Anse School/Public Library

Gutman, Dan. BABE AND ME.  A Baseball Card Adventure series.  New York:  Avon
    Camelot, 2000. 163p.  0-380-97739-7; hb., $14.95     99-36778   Gr. 3-7    FIC

    Thirteen-year-old Joe returns to another time through a baseball card like he did in JACKIE & ME  (Avon, 1999) but this time he takes his Dad with him.  Joe’s parents are divorced and his Dad has just gotten laid off at the beginning of the book.  Readers do not have a favorable opinion of him even though he does not accept the check his ex-wife wearily writes out for him as readers are led to believe he has in the past.   Dad has come to ask Joe to give back the valuable Babe Ruth card he gave him a while ago.  Joe wants to use the card to go back to Oct. 1, 1932 to the game between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees during the World series when Babe Ruth predicted that he would hit a grand slam.  Joe wants to solve this controversial mystery.  Dad has a scheme to have Babe Ruth sign numerous bats, balls, and gloves so they can resell in modern times for a tidy profit.
    Mother is not anxious to risk her son’s return trip to the past but father and son find themselves in Chicago, meet Babe Ruth, travel by train to New York, and attend the game.  Dad even wants to bet on the Cubs but no bookie will take his bet because the Yankees are favored.  Another scheme, to put money in the bank and then draw interest on it for the intervening years, is also quashed when they find the banks failing.
    Besides the obvious quest, there is a convincing father-son relationship.  Children of divorce can see the father’s faults but can also understand why Joe makes excuses for him.  The development of Joe’s Dad from being a grasping schemer to having a more acceptable attitude is natural and welcome and adds another dimension to this sports book.  Another sidelight is that readers learn about the depression, including clothing styles of the 1930s.  Dad redeems himself in the eyes of the reader and Joe through his desire to tell Gov. F. D. Roosevelt about the impending Holocaust and his sharing the special home run ball with some sand lot boys.
    Anyone who has ever read a realistic biography of Babe Ruth will not be surprised at the warts revealed here, poor grammar, childlike nature, lack of personal habits, belching and passing gas, and overeating to the point of throwing up.  This provides a real contrast to Lou Gehrig who is mentioned briefly in the book.  Photos and newspaper clippings are disbursed throughout the book to add interest to the story.     There are several reasons for making this book an essential purchase for elementary and middle school students, one of which is that it makes reading fun for boys interested in baseball.
    Mary Ann Paulin; Director, Superiorland Preview Center

Malley, Gemma. THE DECLARATION.  New York : Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books, 2007 
300p. ISBN: 1599901196 hb. $16.95.  Gr. 6-12  Juv.  SciFi

          Anna is writing secretly in her diary in the year 2140.  Being a "Surplus," one who is illegal, owning a diary or even writing in one is not allowed.  Anna is being trained to be a servant at Grange Hall.  Her parents have broken the Declaration, an agreement not to have children.  Anna is obedient to the system she has grown up in and hates her parents for the sins they have committed against society.  This all gets turned on its head when a new "Surplus" is brought to Grange Hall.  He tells Anna he knows her parents, they love her and he is there to rescue her.  This young adult novel is highly ecommended to junior and senior high readers.  Adults will also find this book very entertaining.  This book would also be good for a book discussion group.  The story is continued in "THE RESISTANCE".
          Denise Engel, Director, Wakefield Public Library, Wakefield, MI

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