In the end, the lampoon falls victim to its own sense of irony, making Buck feel like a secondary character in someone...

GNOME-A-GEDDON

As the title indicates, a novel that attempts to subvert and poke fun at fantasy tropes.

A superfan of the series Triumphant Gnome Syndicate, Buck Rogers knows all the trivia. Buck, a white boy, and his friend Lizzie Adams, a multiracial (black/white) girl, eagerly await the midnight release of Gnome-A-Geddon, the series’ newest. Compounding the excitement, author Harold Macinaw makes a surprise appearance but then suddenly disappears. The next morning, Buck and Lizzie find replicas of themselves, and none of the adults can be woken. Possibly even more alarmingly, rows of children, including Buck’s little sister, Willy, march trancelike into a dumpster behind the bookstore. It turns out Flipside, the world of the books, is real. Using his comprehensive knowledge of the Triumphant Gnome Syndicate, Buck must find Macinaw and rescue Willy, but Flipside is more terrifying than he could have imagined. Like so many other fantasy protagonists, Buck is liberal with the snark, but some of the humor falls flat, as when he postulates that Lizzie might be part Troll because she’s multiracial. Lizzie never rises above the role of Buck’s sidekick, even though she reprimands Buck for not allowing her to fully participate in the adventure, and other characters do not rise above Buck’s preconceived notions of them.

In the end, the lampoon falls victim to its own sense of irony, making Buck feel like a secondary character in someone else’s story and not quite a protagonist in his own . (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7845-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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