Mannered but pleasantly peculiar.


From the Ottoline series , Vol. 4

In her fourth adventure a young sleuth makes new friends both human and otherwise, organizes a costume party, and fosters a romance.

At the invitation of a nattily clad fox with purple fur who has turned one of her elegant apartment building’s rubbish bins into comfortable digs of his own, Ottoline Brown takes an “Urban Safari” that introduces her to her city’s nocturnal animal residents. These range from meerkats popping out of manholes, herds of tiny zebras, and blue flamingos roosting on the public library’s roof to the Crimson Vixen, a street poet who works as the fox’s assistant but is too shy to show that she has feelings for him. Having learned this last at the party, Ottoline and her silent, hairy companion, Mr. Munroe, organize a talent show that culminates in triumph with the vulpine couple engaging in an intimate (wait for it) foxtrot. As in previous episodes, this fey tale is related in a mix of short narrative passages with many fantastically meticulous line drawings featuring bold monochrome highlights (purple, here) and gracefully posed figures in finely detailed garb and surroundings. Ottoline heads a large cast of friends and housekeepers that is less diverse of race and ethnicity than of species, but, bearing as she does a distinct resemblance to Eloise in her upper-class, parent-free lifestyle, she continues to exhibit appealing self-confidence no matter how odd or surreal the situation. Riddell twice provides folding directions for a paper “Fancy Dress Fortune Teller” tucked into a rear pocket.

Mannered but pleasantly peculiar. (Graphic fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4472-7792-7

Page Count: 193

Publisher: Macmillan UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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A charming series opener.


From the Delphine series , Vol. 1

A foundling mouse sets out to uncover the mystery of her origins and of the magical needle sized for humans that was left with her.

Delphine’s travels begin with a summons to the palace, where her growing reputation as a brilliant seamstress commands an order for a ball gown for Princess Petits-Oiseaux—and also gives her a chance to discover exciting hints about a vanished order of needle-wielding magic mice known as the Threaded and of an ancient war with the rats. Meanwhile, no sooner does Midnight, cruel king of the rats, learn that the needle they have been seeking for a century has been found than said old war suddenly heats up and turns into a deadly chase. Also meanwhile, only barely noticed by the animal cast but sure to snag readers’ attention, certain events involving another seamstress, a pumpkin coach, a ball, a prince, and a glass slipper are happening above the floorboards in the parallel human world. That isn’t the only sly touch in this bibbidi bobbidi debut, which is rich in clearly delineated character types, features plenty of brisk action, and is also, overall, more than a bit reminiscent in tone and setting to Brian Jacques’ Redwall series (though with more focus on fashion than food). While this volume is mostly setup, heroes and villains alike end up on their marks, and plenty of loose ends remain to stitch up later.

A charming series opener. (Animal fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-04802-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A sure draw for the Kung-Fu Panda crowd, high on body count but low on gory details, it doesn't take itself too seriously...


From the Shark Wars series , Vol. 2

Toothy rivals introduced in the opener, Shark Wars (2011), unite in the sequel to battle an army of shark invaders from the far end of the Big Blue.

Having learned that he’s not fat (or “big-cartilaged,” as he prefers to put it) but a supersized prehistoric Megalodon, young Gray is propelled into playing a leading role in repelling a disciplined force of shark troops from Indi, led by King Finnivus, a spoiled and vicious brat with visions of world conquest. Fortunately, Gray is being tutored in martial “Shar-kata” by Takiza, an ancient and bad-tempered betta (Siamese fighting fish). He also finds common purpose with other “shivers” (the basic shark communal unit—though more open-minded shivers admit other species too) and discovers unexpected allies who arrive (thanks to Takiza’s ability to span entire oceans with magical speed) in the nick of time to turn the tide of the climactic battle. When Gray cries, or pants with exhaustion, the overall anthropomorphic conceit wears thin, but Altbacker expends some effort concocting his undersea setting and fills out the finny cast with familiar martial-arts–style character types.

A sure draw for the Kung-Fu Panda crowd, high on body count but low on gory details, it doesn't take itself too seriously and is fully sequel-enabled. (Animal fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59514-377-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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