Vande Velde combines her trademark spookiness with some of the motifs of fairy tales—witches, magic, stolen children—to explore themes of jealousy and villainy. A young girl of about 12, who can remember nothing of her name or her home, is rescued from the forest. She is soon taken up by a mother who calls her Isabelle and who insists that she is the daughter who disappeared years ago. The same woman’s month-old baby was taken by a witch just a day before Isabelle is found, and the connection between the events is cleverly plotted and revealed. The indeterminate, rustic setting of forests, small villages and pre-industrial technology, along with the sturdy and odd, old-fashioned names, add to the folktale quality of the narrative. Questions of identity and the nature of evil run throughout the introspective narrative as the girl struggles to understand herself and her relationship with the world—even as the selfsame narrative twists and turns its way to a satisfyingly devious conclusion. A quick read; taut and superbly suspenseful. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5515-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2008

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After a year of the grief and turmoil following her sister Holly's drowning, Liza, 14, doesn't want to leave San Antonio to spend the summer in Rockport, Texas, with her cranky, self- centered, bigoted grandmother, Mama Lacey, who has broken her hip. Liza's whole family is still grieving; her mother reads lots of self-help books and tries to pull things together with organized discussions. Liza is angry at everyone, and not always reasonably: Among her targets are her best friend, Chloe, for moving to Houston, and Holly, for dying. Once Liza is in Rockport, sending E- mails to her sweetly individualistic boyfriend makes home seem closer. When Chloe visits, Liza is surprised to find out that best friends can do a lot of growing apart in different cities, and recognizes a side of Chloe that is disquieting. As a reaction to Chloe's rigid perception of honesty, Liza begins to navigate her own path of tolerance and understanding. With skill, Stevens (Liza's Blue Moon, 1995) depicts the complicated nuances of emotions and behavior within a family—the hopes, disappointments, misplaced but well-intentioned efforts, and small acts of courage that hit home. As a result, Liza and her family are very real, while Chloe, a necessary foil, is only slightly less believable. A thoughtful novel, written with great feeling. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-688-15310-0

Page Count: 166

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1997

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After fighting the evil Blouts in The Otherworldlies (2008), Fern must now face a deadlier menace: rooming with the school's...


Twelve-year-old Fern is an Otherworldly, a vampire—though why a non–blood-drinking, non-immortal, naturally born, teleporting telekinetic is called a “vampire” is left as an exercise to the reader.

After fighting the evil Blouts in The Otherworldlies (2008), Fern must now face a deadlier menace: rooming with the school's mean girls on a class trip to Washington, D.C. Fern's only distraction from the bullies tormenting her is her vision of a boy in a cage. The boy, she discovers, is Miles Zapo, a kidnapped Otherworldly just Fern's age. Fern suspects Miles, like her, is one of the Unusuals, destined to do something or other. (It's not clear what’s so Unusual, and it doesn't really matter; as long as there's a prophecy it's important, right?) The kidnapper is the dastardly Silver Tooth, also known as Haryle (“Hair-uh-Lee”) Laffar, brother of evil Vlad from Fern's previous adventure, and possessed of even more mysterious and evil secrets. The Smithsonian, the Hope diamond, moon rocks and mohawked, scaled, monstrous birds all play a part in Haryle's villainous plans for Miles and Fern. A firmly middle-school adventure (despite packaging attempting to capitalize on the paranormal craze among older teens) composed of cartoon villains, unconvincing heroes and a muddled, nonsensical plot.

Pub Date: June 28, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-199443-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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