Reviews for Secret of Zoom


Booklist Reviews 2009 June #1
Jonell, author of Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat (2007), builds this fantasy upon a very different sort of alternative energy. Laced into the rocks of the Starkian Ridge is a pink-and-green substance called zoom. Like most fuels, zoom makes things go, is definitely explosive, and worth buckets of money for the savvy prospector. What's different is that it only responds to certain notes sung by a voice fueled by fear. So, the greedy schemer who fills the role of flat-out bad guy, Lenny Loompski, employs a group of starved, neglected, and terrified singing orphans living in concentration camp-like conditions to mine the precious substance. Until, that is, the overly protected (and pitch-perfect) Christina catches wind of the orphans' plight and pluckily embarks on a zoom-fueled thrill ride to save the day, even as she uncovers a few secrets from her own past along the way. Although some clumsy plot maneuvering and frustratingly obtuse characters keep this from flying too high, there's still plenty of quirky imagination, off-kilter energy, and looping thrills at work here. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Ten-year-old Christina has been overprotected by her emotionally distant father since her mother's mysterious death. She now finds herself dragged into a sinister mining enterprise that exploits orphan labor to extract "zoom," a volatile and valuable fuel source. Science fiction, determination, loyalty, and a smattering of music blend together well in Jonell's story. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2009 August #1
A plucky little girl literally rises to the occasion, rescuing a passel of exploited orphans and solving the mystery of her mother's death. Isolated and lonely, ten-year-old Christina lives in a fortress-like mansion next to the fenced-in forests that surround Loompski Labs, where her scientist father works and her geologist mother supposedly died. The overprotected Christina can't attend school, play with other kids or leave the yard. However, life changes after she meets a boy from the neighboring orphanage. She discovers an underground passage leading to the outside world, where she learns malevolent Lenny Loompski is using orphans like slaves to extract volatile, valuable "zoom" from the mountains. Flying a miniature plane fueled by "zoom," Christina risks all to save the orphans. Like her equally spunky counterpart in Jonell's Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat (2007) and Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls (2008), Christina moves far beyond her safe, secure world to make hard but right decisions. Her character provides ballast for the fast-paced, far-fetched plot and quirky supporting characters. Eccentric and entertaining. (Adventure. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 November

Gr 4-7--This exciting tale, with just a touch of fantasy and humor, is a winner. Christina Adnoid's mother was blown up at Loompski Labs, where she worked as a scientist, when Christina was very young. Christina, who happens to have perfect pitch, now lives with her father, also a scientist at the lab, and is carefully guarded and protected by her governess. When she and an orphan named Taft discover an attic in her house and a tunnel that leads from there under the house and into the forest, she realizes that bad things are happening. Children from the local orphanage are being held prisoner and taken to an unknown destination, and she realizes that it is those who can sing well who are chosen. She gets involved in trying to help save the orphans, and very soon herself, from the evil Lenny Loompski and his henchmen, who are using the orphans' musical talents for their own purposes. Complete with a cast of clearly drawn characters, the adventure proceeds at a breakneck pace until all is resolved and a happy ending completes the picture. This is a Roald Dahl-like world in which good and bad are clearly demarcated, and justice is dispensed in a particularly satisfying way. Like Christina, Jonell displays pitch-perfect skills in an expertly crafted story that never flags and that includes plenty of heart-stopping situations to keep readers fully engaged.--Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City

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