Silly witches, transformed birds and a plucky heroine equal “real, live adventure.” (Fantasy. 8-12)

THE ART OF FLYING

Having accidentally transformed three birds into humans, sibling witches must coerce a practical girl to help them reverse the spell, but she proves an unreliable cohort.

The Baldwin sisters keep a low profile in “poky old Wheatfield,” where no one knows they are really witches. By turning an owl and two fledgling sparrows into a man and two boys, the sisters have breached the strict witch code forbidding human transformation and have five days to reverse the spell or the change becomes permanent. Worse, they then lose the ex-owl and one of the ex-sparrows. When the sisters lure 11-year-old Fortuna Dalliance to their suitably spooky house to see if she’s got the right stuff to help them, she’s terrified, but she’s also been itching for excitement. Soon becoming attached to bird-boy Martin, Fortuna hides him so he’ll remain human. Threatened by the local coven and aided by the bird community, the sisters are desperate to find the three missing bird-humans, but Fortuna can’t decide what to do. Like the crones in Dahl’s The Witches, the Baldwin sisters supply sinister humor, while conflicted heroine Fortuna must decide whether to let her friend fly free. Black-and-white spot art adds charm to this contemporary debut fantasy.

Silly witches, transformed birds and a plucky heroine equal “real, live adventure.” (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5815-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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