A potentially fun twist on a classic fairy tale that unfortunately isn’t “just right.” (Fantasy. 7-10)

GOLDILOCKS, GO HOME!

Goldilocks overstays her welcome with the three bears in this (very) fractured fairy tale.

Insisting she is really a switched-at-birth princess, Goldilocks flees her suburban home and runs into the woods in search of her rightful parents and their castle. Exhausted from running all night, she finds an unlocked house and, as the story goes, tries the porridge, chairs, and beds she finds there. Papa and Mama Bear show sympathy for Goldilocks, offering her a place to stay while she waits for the Big Bad Wolf to leave the area. But Bobby Bear—Baby Bear’s new, more mature name—has had enough of “the furless one” and devises a plan to take her to the castle despite his parents’ injunction. With appearances by the hungry bridge troll, the three little pigs, and others, this mixed-up story is a new take on the classic fairy tale. Goldilocks and Bobby Bear take turns narrating their story, but their mutual animosity means they keep interrupting each other’s narrative, a device that’s sometimes funny but often distracting. Black-and-white drawings are scattered throughout the text, but these obtrusions often overpower the narrative. References to cautious Bobby Bear’s lack of bravery and princesslike behavior are off-putting, in line with the overall abrasive tone of the humor.

A potentially fun twist on a classic fairy tale that unfortunately isn’t “just right.” (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3857-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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

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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

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