In his latest stunner, Sabuda pairs a version of the tale that is less abridged than most retellings to paper-engineered effects that, as usual, raise the bar of the physically possible.

His trademark set-piece centerpieces start with the sea king’s coral castle—rearing up more than 14 inches in an intricately interwoven construct—and end with a high-ceilinged, multilayer wedding stage. Around these, the tale plays out largely on side flaps and inset booklets that themselves feature multiple layers and many small but no less brilliantly designed pop-ups. In scenes both above and below the ocean surface, rich colors blend and flow in tonal sweeps that echo the artist’s linework for elegance as well as the courageous mermaid’s intense inner emotions. Carrying the tale up to her hard-earned transformation to a spirit of the air, Sabuda has preserved the original’s events and much of its imagery in his rendition while dispensing with Andersen’s wordier flights of description and, thankfully, the heavily moralistic concluding passage. As with all of Sabuda’s pop-up creations, the spreads should be teased open rather than pulled to minimize the chance of tearing. The rewards are well worth taking such care. A magnificent counter to the Disney pap. (Pop-up/fairy tale. 9-12)


Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6080-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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After Castro’s takeover, nine-year-old Julian and his older brothers are sent away by their fearful parents via “Operation Pedro Pan” to a camp in Miami for Cuban-exile children. Here he discovers that a ruthless bully has essentially been put in charge. Julian is quicker-witted than his brothers or anyone else ever imagined, though, and with his inherent smarts, developing maturity and the help of child and adult friends, he learns to navigate the dynamics of the camp and surroundings and grows from the former baby of the family to independence and self-confidence. A daring rescue mission at the end of the novel will have readers rooting for Julian even as it opens his family’s eyes to his courage and resourcefulness. This autobiographical novel is a well-meaning, fast-paced and often exciting read, though at times the writing feels choppy. It will introduce readers to a not-so-distant period whose echoes are still felt today and inspire admiration for young people who had to be brave despite frightening and lonely odds. (Historical fiction. 9-12)


Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59643-168-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.


Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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