Although there are many stories omitted in this version, this is an excellent starting place to encounter the ancient heroes...

SHAHNAMEH

THE PERSIAN BOOK OF KINGS

In this adaptation of the Iranian epic, finished in the 11th century by Ferdowsi, the tragic tale of Rustam and Sohrab takes center stage.

The chronology of Persian kings at the beginning is difficult to follow, with many names to master and innumerable battle scenes, but as the great hero Rustam enters the story, events begin to slow down.  His exploits are described in detail. Years later, his son Sohrab, never having met his father, seeks him out on the battlefield. He is deceived by Rustam, who does not realize that Sohrab is his son. Sohrab’s death at the hands of his father, ignorant of the relationship, is emotionally engaging. Laird’s language is hyperbolic, as befits the description of mythological heroes, but it is always accessible, despite the occasional introduction of couplets reminiscent of the original poem. The illustrator uses elements of Persian miniatures in her naïve style, melding painting and collage. Handsomely produced with flowery borders on each page and intense color, the single- and double-page spreads are full of movement. Less successful are the smaller black-and-white vignettes, which are sometimes intertwined with the attractive borders. Lists of characters and museums with collections of Persian miniatures are included.

Although there are many stories omitted in this version, this is an excellent starting place to encounter the ancient heroes of Iran. (introduction) (Folklore. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84780-253-8

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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THE BOXCAR CHILDREN MYSTERIES

BOX SET: BOOKS 1-12; ENHANCED EDITION

Separate e-book versions of the entire Boxcar Children series are or soon will be available, but this “bundle” makes an economical way to pick up the first 12. The classic (“dated” to use a more cogent term) original line-drawn illustrations have been preserved in each mystery, but the type size and style can be altered to suit, and each opens with an image of a recent color cover. The “enhanced version” adds four professionally produced, two-minute-or-shorter video clips. These feature fulsome appreciations of the books and their original author by employees and volunteers from Connecticut’s Gertrude Chandler Warner Museum, overviews of the museum and some of its memorabilia—plus a 500-or-so–word biography of Warner and 10 photos of the author, her home and the railroad station that inspired the stories. The absence of Gertrude Chandler Warner and The Boxcar Children, the 1997 biography of the author by Mary Ellen Ellsworth, represents a missed opportunity. As it is, the extra content is no more than a lagniappe but provides at least a glimpse of the series’ live-wire creator for both young readers and nostalgic adult fans. (Enhanced e-book. 9-11, adult)

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-4532-1117-5

Page Count: 2813

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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Two stories, both sketchy, that, while not actually at cross purposes, never really move in tandem.

BLUE BOTTLE MYSTERY

THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

In this graphic version of a 2001 novel, a lad with Asperger syndrome finds the world at least a little easier to navigate after he unearths a magic bottle.

Naturally hoping that there is a genie inside the big blue flask they find in the shrubbery, Ben and his short friend, Andy, engage in a round of wild wishes before passing the discovery on to Ben’s crabby teacher in hopes of softening her up. A few days later, Ben and his widowed dad win big in the lottery, and Andy experiences a sudden, major growth spurt that earns him a coveted spot on the school’s basketball team. But what was that third wish? They can’t remember, until an amusing twist leads to a resolution. Superimposed on this plotline with almost no actual contact is an infotale centered on Ben’s condition that features frequent expository asides (“I feel comfortable when things are the same”) and includes experiences with his teacher’s mood swings and, later, with a pair of bullies. This leads to a diagnostic tally of Asperger causes and symptoms delivered to his clueless father by a doctor—from secondhand descriptions, apparently, since she never actually meets her patient in the book. The block-lettered dialogue and narrative are legibly clear, as are the figures’ actions in the simply drawn sequential panels.

Two stories, both sketchy, that, while not actually at cross purposes, never really move in tandem. (Graphic fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-84905-650-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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