A homespun fairy tale full of spells, secrets, and romance.

BRIGHTLY WOVEN

A magical boy enlists a provincial weaver to thwart a war between kingdoms.

Sydelle Mirabil, 14, is a talented weaver living with her parents in their quiet, drought-plagued village in the kingdom of Palmarta. One day, angst-y Wayland North—a rainbow-cloaked, 15-year-old wizard—suddenly appears in her life and sweeps her up into a dangerous adventure. He claims to need her help in both navigating kingdoms and mending his enchanted cloaks in order to deliver a report that reveals the identity of the king’s assassin. With a magical swish of North’s multicolored mantles, the duo travels throughout the realms, trying to stay a step ahead of North’s nefarious nemesis, Dorwan, and the impending war he seeks to bring. Sydelle is a feisty heroine, and the sparks between her and North quickly ignite as their banter and relationship gradually warm. Based on Bracken’s 2010 YA fantasy of the same name, this full-color graphic adaptation lowers its protagonists’ ages a bit for a middle-grade audience. Imbued with magic and romance, it holds true to fairy-tale tropes; those looking for a comfort read should heartily enjoy the journey to its happy ending. Seaton’s exciting and expressive illustrations keep their perspective squarely focused on the action. Both Sydelle and North present white; secondary characters have more varied skin tones.

A homespun fairy tale full of spells, secrets, and romance. (Graphic fantasy. 8-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-01588-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

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THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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