Worldwide in scope, thoroughly informative, teeming with relentlessly cute poppets.

A NATURAL HISTORY OF FAIRIES

A scientist’s survey of many types of fairies in their natural habitats.

Cast as the side project of a botanist from early last century (that would be the 1900s), this sumptuously produced scrapbook offers both general and clinical observations on dozens of fairy species—from tiny puffball fairies to (judging from the picture) the squirrel-sized mountain tunder—in gardens, homes, and wild climes ranging from tropical to arctic. Despite having wings (wingless varieties are called “elves”), hatching from eggs, and undergoing metamorphic life cycle transformations from legless “flutterpillars” to adult(ish) “moppets,” these nonmagical creatures are nonetheless classified as mammals by the fictive scientist. Roux follows suit in painted portraits of graceful, pointy-eared, anthropomorphic mites clad in discreet floral or leafy garb and sporting butterfly or insect wings. Rendered in the style of Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies, the diminutive figures maintain a white default but do show some variation in skin tones, hair types, and facial features. Stereotypically, all but one of the jungle fairies, including a “pygmy fairy,” are brown-skinned, but specimens resident in other habitats or in adjoining entries often make a diverse showing. Savvy advice for responsible fairy watchers closes this nearly comprehensive (tooth fairies turned out to be too “elusive” to glimpse) catalog.

Worldwide in scope, thoroughly informative, teeming with relentlessly cute poppets. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78603-763-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A sensitive, moving debut.

THE UNICORN IN THE BARN

When 11-year-old Eric Harper begins caring for an injured unicorn, his life is changed by the choices he makes, the relationships he forms, and the secrets he uncovers.

Eric lives with his family on land that has belonged to Harpers for generations and shares a special bond with his grandmother. One day, Eric spies what he thinks is a white deer but quickly realizes is a white unicorn. Filled with the “most amazing feeling of comfort and happiness and excitement,” Eric follows the lame unicorn to the farmhouse his ailing grandmother recently sold to Dr. Brancusi, a veterinarian, and her daughter, Allegra. (All three characters appear to be white.) Dr. Brancusi senses Eric’s concern and asks him to help her treat the unicorn. Discovering the unicorn is pregnant with twins, Dr. Brancusi warns Eric they must keep her hidden until the babies are born and hires him to assist. Eric’s affinity to the unicorn deepens, and when she’s threatened and runs away, he frantically searches. In the end, although Eric experiences loss, he gains a special family connection. Despite the presence of supernatural creatures, Eric’s quiet, genuine, first-person voice tells a realistic story of family love and discovering one’s true self, the presence of the unicorn and other magical creatures adding just a touch of whimsy to a story about very real emotions, revealed in Green’s black-and-white illustrations.

A sensitive, moving debut. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-76112-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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A muddled middle, with little sign of movement toward a final conflict or resolution.

THE LAST DRAGON

From the Revenge of Magic series , Vol. 2

Nightmarish visions prompt desperate gambles for young magic-wielder Fort as he continues his efforts to rescue his father from the mysterious Old Ones.

Showing no inclination to pick up the opener’s plodding pace, Riley marches his preteen spellcaster through wordy reveries and exposition, conveniently overheard conversations, and recurrent dream encounters with a foe given to ALL-CAPS bombast as one ill-starred rescue scheme gives way on the fly to others. Doing his best to shuck annoyed friends and allies who insist on saving his bacon anyway, Fort eventually finds himself in a subterranean realm facing dwarves, elves (one elf, anyway), huge monsters—and an Old One who turns out to be a dragon willing to help subdue his three repressive kindred elementals before laboriously “fathering” an egg. (Just to muddy the waters a bit more, the titular dragon turns out to be another one altogether, hiding back on Earth and remaining offstage throughout this episode.) Magic, mostly teleportation and telepathy with admixtures of mind control and the occasional exploding fireball, gets brisk workouts, but in the end, the dark is still rising. Fort seems too colorless to inspire the sort of loyalty he gets from his supporting cast, which is well stocked with firecrackers and wild cards. Again, Fort’s circle isn’t entirely white, but the default is in operation.

A muddled middle, with little sign of movement toward a final conflict or resolution. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2572-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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