Though infinitely readable from the first page onward, this is one tale that never quite finds its footing. Art not seen.

IRON HEARTED VIOLET

Although she uses the standard set of ingredients (spunky princess, stable boy, two-dimensional villain, dragon, small helpful magical creatures, etc.), Barnhill’s latest never quite lives up to its potential.

Violet is not an attractive princess in the least, but that’s A-OK with her parents, her people and her best friend, Demetrius the stable boy. Violet’s fine with it too, until she and Demetrius stumble across a hidden room in her castle containing a terrifying painting and a malignant book. When Violet mistakenly releases an evil god of hidden legend in an attempt to become beautiful, she must sacrifice everything in order to rectify her mistake. Alas, it takes at least 90 pages to begin to feel any kind of proper sympathy for Violet since a key spell causes her to become unpleasant and obsessive early on. Though a prominent theme is of the power of storytelling, it is unclear what Barnhill is trying to say about it. On the face of it, it appears that she’s saying that some stories, even dangerous ones, need to be told. Yet as the tale continues and characters rail against storytelling, the opposite seems to be true, and the lesson—surely unintended—is that all stories are lies and falsehoods. 

Though infinitely readable from the first page onward, this is one tale that never quite finds its footing. Art not seen. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-05673-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A young tennis champion becomes the target of revenge.

In this sequel to Legacy and the Queen (2019), Legacy Petrin and her friends Javi and Pippa have returned to Legacy’s home province and the orphanage run by her father. With her friends’ help, she is in training to defend her championship when they discover that another player, operating under the protection of High Consul Silla, is presenting herself as Legacy. She is so convincing that the real Legacy is accused of being an imitation. False Legacy has become a hero to the masses, further strengthening Silla’s hold, and it becomes imperative to uncover and defeat her. If Legacy is to win again, she must play her imposter while disguised as someone else. Winning at tennis is not just about money and fame, but resisting Silla’s plans to send more young people into brutal mines with little hope of better lives. Legacy will have to overcome her fears and find the magic that allowed her to claim victory in the past. This story, with its elements of sports, fantasy, and social consciousness that highlight tensions between the powerful and those they prey upon, successfully continues the series conceived by late basketball superstar Bryant. As before, the tennis matches are depicted with pace and spirit. Legacy and Javi have brown skin; most other characters default to White.

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949520-19-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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