A sweetly encouraging look at the way friendship can mend heart and soul.

MONSTER FRIENDS

Reggie’s summer job as housesitter for a family away on travels turns out to be unexpectedly happy.

At a time that would normally be filled with exciting pursuits, Reggie is instead spending a quiet, solitary summer near the ocean. Reggie’s slightly unhappy and fearful vibe hints that all has not been going well in the monster’s life. There’s a pile of unanswered correspondence to deal with and an unsettling dream on the first night in the big house. Reggie is befriended by purple-spotted Emily, one of five sisters in a family of multihued, rabbitlike creatures. Emily is affable and talkative, ready to help Reggie overcome loneliness. Emily has her own misery at being dismissed by one sister who is scornful of her more whimsical sensibilities. Reggie and Emily find support in each other during a slightly scary adventure in a sea serpent’s lair. Reggie, who looks like an unprepossessing one-eyed, small blob with pointed ears, can, as demonstrated in the opening pages, stretch like rubber to reach a high shelf—and has other, even more impressive, abilities that make appearances later. Vandorn’s sunny, not-quite-pastel palette transforms the shadows that accompany Reggie’s arrival into a landscape of green fields, colorful gardens, and warm blue sea. Her rounded monster/animal characters are creatively varied and intriguing, and her storytelling simple but nuanced.

A sweetly encouraging look at the way friendship can mend heart and soul. (Graphic fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984896-82-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

THE MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER

Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more