Like stockings hung by the fire, this spellbinding opus may well become a yuletide tradition.

A BOY CALLED CHRISTMAS

From the Boy Called Christmas series , Vol. 1

Young Nikolas has a grand adventure while discovering his magical destiny as Father Christmas.

Nikolas is a sweet, 12-year-old white boy who leads a hard-knock life in the woods of Finland. His mother has died, and his father, Joel is an impoverished woodcutter. Desperate for money, Joel joins a group of men on a quest to prove the existence of elves, leaving Nikolas with his ill-tempered aunt, Carlotta. Nikolas runs away to find his father, but trudging months through the woods, he faces starvation, freezing, and hopelessness. Then he comes across a reindeer with an arrow stuck in his leg. Nikolas helps him and names him Blitzen, and they continue their journey to the elf village together. Unfortunately, once located, the elves do not offer a warm welcome but instead lock Nikolas in the tower. It’s there that Nikolas discovers, with the help of a drimwick, or hope spell, that he’s become more than just the simple boy he used to be. With remarkable descriptions (“His eyebrows were sliding apart like caterpillars falling out of love”) and a bit of mischief (Blitzen likes to wee on the heads of humans as he flies over), this hits both ends of the audience’s sophistication range and has great promise as a read-aloud. The clever story is powdered with puckish illustrations and reminds humans and elves alike that goodness and kindness are a kind of magic.

Like stockings hung by the fire, this spellbinding opus may well become a yuletide tradition. (Fantasy. 6-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-55265-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A fun, new magical world that promises more adventures to come.

THE LAST FALLEN STAR

When a spell goes wrong, a girl sets out on a quest to save her sister.

Riley Oh and her sister, Hattie, are typical Korean American girls except for one thing: They know magic is real. When she turns 13 in two days, Hattie will finally become a full member of the Gom clan, able to wield magic on her own. But because Riley is adopted and saram, or nonmagical, the other clans will not allow her to have an initiation ceremony when she turns 13 in a month. Struck by this unfairness, Hattie finds a spell that will share her magic with Riley. Unfortunately, their plan goes spectacularly wrong, fracturing Riley’s community and endangering Hattie. Feeling responsible for the calamity, Riley, along with her best friend, Emmett, will do whatever it takes to make things right, whether that means striking deals with fickle magical beings or considering the help of an ostracized magical clan. Exploring familial bonds, belonging, and community, this is a fast-paced urban fantasy drawing on Korean mythology. Riley and her friends navigate Los Angeles’ Koreatown and run-ins with dokkaebi and inmyeonjo with a frantic, upbeat energy. Complications and twists keep the plot engaging and snappy. Emmett is cued as biracial (his mother was a Gom elder who married a saram with a Western surname; his father’s ethnicity is not specified).

A fun, new magical world that promises more adventures to come. (glossary) (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-05963-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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