This entry in the Monster High/Ever After High franchise may please fans, but it’s unlikely to win new ones.

THE LEGEND OF SHADOW HIGH

From the Ever After High series

The World of Stories is in danger, and it’s up to the offspring of famous fairy-tale characters and monsters to team up to save the day.

Fairy-tale characters don’t believe in monsters, and monsters don’t believe in fairy tales. Each group lives in its own carefully isolated island-world within the World of Stories. Then Frankie Stein and Draculaura accidentally transport themselves from Monster High to Ever After High, where they meet Apple White (Snow’s daughter) and her friend Raven Queen, the Evil Queen’s daughter (Apple and Raven's familial connection is unremarked upon). After mutual exclamations that these mythological figures really exist, the four girls band together to stop Raven’s power-hungry mother, recently escaped from mirror prison, from freeing Shadow High from the annals of legend. If they fail, the lands that make up the World of Stories will come crashing together, unmaking the entire World and destroying everyone in it. Third-person, present-tense narration with asides in the form of footnotes makes the novice Narrator, Brooke Page, a character who breaks the fourth wall. Self-awareness abounds; puns, literal interpretations of figurative sayings, and the series’ trademark portmanteaus (“fangtastic,” “spelltacular”) fill the pages and may strike many as precious rather than cute. Moreover, overuse of the same jokes grows tiring (how many jokes can be made of the famous “Pease Porridge” rhyme?—five, apparently).

This entry in the Monster High/Ever After High franchise may please fans, but it’s unlikely to win new ones. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-35282-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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