INTO THE WOODS

Bursting with flavor and good humor, this single long, lovely fairy tale bows to an abundance of classic tales while keeping everything fresh. Storm, champion maker of fireworks, and older sister Aurora, housekeeper extraordinaire and baker of madeleines, watch their useless parents disappear quickly (natch). Mother dies giving birth to verbally precocious baby Anything, and father wanders away in grief. The three sisters are a sweet household until lupine Dr. DeWilde comes seeking the small magical pipe that mother bequeathed to Storm. Frantically escaping, the sisters scramble through woods, enchanted towns, a candy-house orphanage, cottages, castles, ice fields and a mountain of slavery. Grey’s black-and-white drawings perfectly complement Gardner’s playful textual winks—both honor a cornucopia of archetypal tales, blatantly and subtly. The sisters’ story is a fairy tale itself, yet Rapunzel, Hansel & Gretel and The Pied Piper are also old books that characters read. It works because Gardner anchors everything warmly in Storm, who’s wonderfully genuine and full of resourcefulness. Delightful. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 12, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-75115-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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THE LEMONADE WAR

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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