FICTION

Target Practice

176p. (Cleopatra in Space: Bk. 1). Scholastic/Graphix. May 2014. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780545528429; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780545528436. LC 2013934374.
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Gr 3–5—The spunky Egyptian princess escapes her tutor and is transported to Mayet, a planet in the future. There, the 15-year-old learns that evil dictator Xaius Octavian is conquering neighboring civilizations. She discovers a Mayet prophesy about a hero who will defeat this evil and is astonished to learn the she is the foretold liberator. "Lightyears from home, millennia in the future, and… savior of the planet," she bemoans as she is sent to Mayet school for further education and training. Cleo is a troublemaker who skips school and performs poorly in academic subjects. However, the royal immediately takes to ray gun practice with the same zeal she anciently had for a slingshot. Her sharpshooting skills astound the student body. After four months of training, planet leaders evaluate her progress and determine that she is rash, lacks discipline, and needs two more years of preparation. But time is running out. Under the guise of a school assignment, she is sent on a dangerous mission to retrieve an important key. Plenty of action ensues as this Teflon-like heroine, seemingly oblivious to peril, fearlessly attempts to complete the task. This high-adventure fantasy, complete with a talking cat in the sidecar of a flying sphinx, is chock-full of action and attitude. Charming characters with expressive faces and disproportionately large heads seem younger than their 15 years. Although the opening time shifts are confusing, young readers will soon be caught up in the escapist fun.—Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Dynamic illustrations and campy humor combine in this sci-fi graphic novel. A sassy teenage Cleopatra is yanked from first-century B.C. Egypt to the Nile galaxy thousands of years in the future. She's hailed as a messiah, destined to crush the evil Xerx. Maihack's time-warped Egypt is portrayed in crisp line art, muted jewel tones, and striking perspectives to create riveting panels.
After first toying with his Cleopatra in Space premise in a webcomic, Maihack now showcases his sassy heroine in a debut sci-fi graphic novel. Yanked from first-century B.C. Egypt to the Nile galaxy thousands of years in the future, Cleopatra -- or Cleo, as she prefers to be called -- is hailed as a messiah, destined to crush the evil Xerx. Quick with a quip (and, as it turns out, a ray gun), the fifteen-year-old moans, "Supposed savior...And I still have to go to school?!" Cleo -- sporting a cute bob and a cobra headband (think Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 film) -- seems ready to doze off in algebra. Later, she trounces her entire class in a sparring match and wisecracks: "If 'x' equals Cleo -- then 'y' equals defeated combat-training class...Who needs algebra?" Maihack's time-warped Egypt is portrayed in crisp line art, muted jewel tones, and striking perspectives to create riveting panels featuring futuristic pyramids and a flying-sphinx motorbike (complete with a sidecar for Cleo's mentor, a talking cat named Khensu). After Cleo single-handedly vanquishes mummy robots and tosses out another one-liner: "Let's wrap this up," readers will be clamoring for more of Maihack's dynamic illustrations, campy humor -- and, of course, more Cleo. tanya d. auger

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