Readers may experience the sensation of entering the "Twilight Zone" when they open this volume featuring "metakids," junior-high aged children with unusual superpowers. Skinner (The Wrecker) clearly enjoys twisting laws of physics and stretching the limits of logic, but his point is often cloudy in these four short stories. Jenny of "As True as She Wants It" can change the structure of buildings, streets and towns--she even moves Egypt into Canada--by inventing a special brand of fictional maps. Oddly enough, no one except her best friend, Laurie, seems to notice. The characters in "Walk This Way" can "bop" (travel through space in a flash), merely by concentrating on their destination; the narrator is consequently obsessed with learning why it is that Mae foots it the old-fashioned way. In the third tale, Dexter Rigato, known as "Poof Poof Ya," can transform his thoughts into graffiti without the use of a brush or spray can. The final selection, "Meta Human," eschews the inanity of the previous three. The darkest and most fully developed selection in the collection, the story probes into the sources, repercussions and ethics of supernatural abilities. Here, a group of metakids must decide whether or not to use their power to restore the life of a dying child. On balance, this book may tickle the fancies of some science fiction buffs, but they will likely find a stumbling block in the author's shaky appraisal of youngsters overstepping their bounds. Ages 10-14. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Gr 7-9-These short stories have the off-balance feel of episodes from The Twilight Zone, but with little of the appeal. The longest selection, "Meta Human," is about Nina, a seemingly evil metakid who grants mental powers to her brother and his two friends. When there is possibly a chance to save the life of a child, she refuses to even try, triggering a confrontation with Jake, the narrator, whom she has been trying to goad into using his power to make fire. The story might possibly be about redemption, since Jake's girlfriend, who attends school at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, is bent on praying for Nina. Then again, it might be the story of a deeply troubled junior criminal who happens to have a soft spot for her younger brother. Whatever it is about gets lost along the way. The best-written story, "Poof Poof Ya Does Me a Favor," plays around with viewpoint, and Skinner does a nice job of changing voices between Meredith, who talks to the planet Pluto, and the third-person narration. All four stories are weak on plot, falling back on common problems-best friends fighting, a guy has a crush on a girl, the loner as rebel. The characters are one-dimensional and, with the exception of Jake, don't grow. The premise of meta-powers is little more than a slick special effect that does little to enhance the plots or affect the characters, for better or worse. Skinner does present occasional vivid flashes of imagery, but he fails to provide a sense of place and time.-Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
In The Wrecker (rev. 9/95), Skinner took us to one of the darker reaches of invention; in Thundershine's four short stories he spreads the strangeness around, varying the mood from sweet to screwy to scary, and usually juggling more than one of those at a go. In "As True as She Wants It," the first story, the narrator's best friend makes maps or "dismaps," that change the world ("Germany is now a string of islands in the Pacific. Italy isn't shaped like a boot anymore"), not to mention the universe ("I had two shadows...Jenny was dismapping the solar system now"). "Walk This Way" is a little love story, set in a time where people don't need to walk now that they can "bop"; "Poof Poof Ya Does Me a Favor" pits a boy who can "mindpaint" against a girl who talks to the planet Pluto. The last story, "Meta Human," is as long as the others put together, and concerns a girl who has far too many superpowers than are good for her, and who hands them out like candy. Poisoned candy. Excepting this last tale, which is rich and morally complicated, the stories are stronger in conception than execution, and the narrators sound too much alike; still, it's an easy and beguiling voice that will take readers to some spooky yet disconcertingly everyday places.
In a well-written gambol through weirdness, Skinner (The Wrecker, 1995, etc.) offers four highly imaginative short stories about young people with supernatural powers. In the first story, Jenny can change the world, and change history, by changing the maps she draws. The narrator, Laurie, knows Jenny is out of control, and when Jenny creates a second sun and splits the earth in two, Laurie is ready to act. The second story is about a world where people "bop"instant travel just by thinking of a locationinstead of walking from one place to another. Mae, however, either can't bop, or won't, a prospect that intrigues the narrator. In the third tale, Meredith, who has a supernatural connection with the planet Pluto, and Dexter, who is able to spray-paint with his mind, unite their powers. In the fourth and longest story, Jake finds himself deeply in love with a religious girl, Louise, and both of them are tempted by the powers a metahuman, Nina, has bestowed upon them. All four stories will captivate readers, and may even get them thinking about deeper ideas. Skinner's often humorous portrayal of young adolescents is on target, and while the stories resemble writing exercises, lacking the sustained, pulse-pounding poetic turns of his novels, they are consistently entertaining. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 9-14)