A masterpiece of storytelling that is addictive and engrossing.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

THE INQUISITOR'S TALE

OR, THE THREE MAGICAL CHILDREN AND THEIR HOLY DOG

Gidwitz strikes literary gold with this mirthful and compulsively readable adventure story set in medieval France.

In a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, this multiple-narrator fairy tale relates the adventures of Jeanne, a white Christian peasant girl who has prophetic visions; biracial white/black William, a Muslim-born monk-in-training with preternatural strength; and Jacob, a Jewish boy with incredible healing powers. While some townspeople hail them as saints for their gifts, other, narrow-minded Christians drive the children from their homes on a journey that takes them from the church of Saint Denis to a confrontation with Louis IX and his mother in Paris. While the three protagonists initially come together out of necessity, the heartwarming friendship they form celebrates a common humanity that transcends the bounds of race, religion, and social class. The author creates a richly designed medieval world, filled with imperious knights, farting dragons, foreboding forests, and soulless fiends, in which nothing is as it seems, including the tellers of the tales. As the story grows darker and more intricate, the dubious cast of narrators lends greater complexity to the sequence of events, forcing readers to question everything that they believe regarding each character’s exploits. Gidwitz’s lighthearted touch nonetheless provides for insightful commentary on the dangers of narrow-mindedness and zealotry that will resonate with modern readers.

A masterpiece of storytelling that is addictive and engrossing. (Fantasy. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-525-42616-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

more