A TALE DARK & GRIMM

Fairy tales for the horror set blend themselves into one intact thread that’s satisfying enough to overcome an intrusive narrator. The storyteller’s voice (presented in bold type) opens by asserting that original Grimm tales are “awesome,” “violent and ... bloody,” while “all the versions of the stories you’ve heard [are]… mind-numbingly boring” due to sanitization. It’s an odd premise for a piece whose audience is surely aware of many fractured fairy tales that are dark and/or awesome. The narrator contributes unnecessary platitudes, but on the plus side, savvily warns when little kids should leave the room, effectively cautioning big kids that upcoming content is sad or gory—and it really is. Heads are lopped off, blood flows, men reach down girls’ throats and pull out their souls. Old Grimm tales and Gidwitz’s original additions weave together into one arc, with fiercely loyal siblings Hansel and Gretel at the heart. The narrator’s presence lessens; action and emotion deepen; funny gross-outs pop up amid serious violence; and everything builds to one painful and triumphant catharsis. (Fractured fairy tale. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-525-42334-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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This book, drenched in Cuban Spanish and personality, is a breath of fresh air.

SAL & GABI BREAK THE UNIVERSE

From the Sal and Gabi series , Vol. 1

Salvador Vidón is the new kid at Miami’s magnet school Culeco Academy of the Arts, but being at a special school doesn’t protect Sal from trouble.

Bullies are everywhere, but seventh-grader Sal knows just how to handle a difficult kid like Yasmany Robles. Obviously, you deal with a bully by opening a portal into another universe, taking a raw chicken from it, and planting it in the bully’s locker. But you cannot just go opening portals into other universes without some consequences. For one, Sal gets sent to the principal on only his third day at Culeco and in the process meets Gabi Reál, who isn’t buying Sal’s innocent-magician act. The more pressing issue is that when Sal opens portals, sometimes his deceased mother comes through from alternate universes where she still exists—Mami Muerta, in Sal’s words. But if you could bring your dead mother back, wouldn’t you? The story moves quickly, with lots of multiverse traffic, school hijinks, and strong, smart, diverse characters. Most are Cuban-American in various shades of brown, like Sal, Gabi, and Yasmany, and Hernandez effortlessly folds in multiple intersectionalities, including Sal’s diabetes and Gabi’s unusual, delightfully matter-of-fact family structure. Secondary characters receive as much care and love as the primary cast, and readers will find themselves laughing out loud and rooting for Sal, Gabi, and even Yasmany until the very end.

This book, drenched in Cuban Spanish and personality, is a breath of fresh air. (Science fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02282-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A winning novel that lays bare some painful truths and is sure to nurture empathy among readers.

THE SECRET SHERIFF OF SIXTH GRADE

For white sixth-grader Maverick Falconer, life could hardly be worse.

His father died while serving in Afghanistan; he’s ashamed of his alcoholic mom, who can’t keep a job and attracts abusive boyfriends; he often misses meals and wears worn-out clothes—and, for good measure, he’s friendless, mercilessly bullied in school, and can’t stay out of trouble. He dreams of being a superhero but berates himself for weakness. Some bright spots peek through: Maverick has a loving, supportive aunt, a pet hamster, and a plastic sheriff’s badge his father bought him. This he holds onto to remember his hero dad and to bolster his courage. In fast-paced, breezy, first-person prose that’s by turns laugh-out-loud funny and heart-wrenching, Sonnenblick creates in Maverick an endearing protagonist to root for. Despite daunting obstacles, this terrific boy retains a strong sense of self, a sense of humor, and a big heart that impels him to do what’s right, as when he defends his archnemesis. Other characters are similarly well-realized, in particular the assistant principal who projects a terrifying persona but is actually compassionate and softhearted. A daring confrontation, some startling revelations, and serious injuries lead to an emotionally satisfying ending in which Maverick acknowledges who real heroes are—and that his kindness proves he was one all along.

A winning novel that lays bare some painful truths and is sure to nurture empathy among readers. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-86320-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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