illus. by author. 192p. (Astronaut Academy Series). First Second. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-621-3.
Gr 4–6—Hakata Soy, the space hero with dangerously spiky hair, is glad to be back at Astronaut Academy after a semester break. Trouble emerges when a creature that feeds on human emotion infiltrates the school. The resulting drama, including a ban on love, threatens to keep Hakata's Fireball team out of the championship. This mix of science fiction and humor has high appeal, deftly referencing manga, anime, and gaming conventions. There are adorable chibis, a bunny teacher, and a panda undercover agent, and Fireball games are depicted as video-game battles, the players in full, mecha-like armor. Bold cartoon-style illustrations nod to manga's spiky, stylized look while remaining unique. Full of action, humor, and engaging characters, this is a solid purchase.—Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library, NY

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