This inventive, modern fairy-tale adventure is sprinkled with wry humor.

WANDA SEASONGOOD AND THE MOSTLY TRUE SECRET

From the Wanda Seasongood series , Vol. 1

Wanda’s 11th birthday begins with a bluebird flying smack into her bedroom window, and then it gets worse.

Wanda always tries to be kind and helpful. Still, her parents chastise her and praise Zane, her horrible beast of a younger brother, no matter what happens, even when he spits peas at her across the dinner table. Every birthday she wishes to suddenly become an orphan. It turns out that the bluebird, named Voltaire, has a secret message to deliver, but he cannot remember it. On a journey to learn what it is, the two go into the Scary Wood among all sorts of creatures who wish her ill (and frequently almost succeed in doing it). Amid many magical mishaps, transfigurative perils, and a smooch-obsessed frog, Wanda hopes to discover her “true” family. The text is well constructed, containing odd scraps sewn together into an imaginative story quilt. There’s a supernatural cast chock-full of familiar types in fiendishly new forms, such as the Groods, chimerically composed of various flora and fauna. Wanda is by turns charmingly flabbergasted and persistently practical but ever well meaning; readers are sure to root for her along the journey. Textual descriptions combine with Harney’s cartoon illustrations to establish a largely white cast; in a welcome twist for a genre that too often racializes evil, the dreadful witch has “creamy” skin.

This inventive, modern fairy-tale adventure is sprinkled with wry humor. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-04315-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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