A homespun fairy tale full of spells, secrets, and romance.

BRIGHTLY WOVEN

A magical boy enlists a provincial weaver to thwart a war between kingdoms.

Sydelle Mirabil, 14, is a talented weaver living with her parents in their quiet, drought-plagued village in the kingdom of Palmarta. One day, angst-y Wayland North—a rainbow-cloaked, 15-year-old wizard—suddenly appears in her life and sweeps her up into a dangerous adventure. He claims to need her help in both navigating kingdoms and mending his enchanted cloaks in order to deliver a report that reveals the identity of the king’s assassin. With a magical swish of North’s multicolored mantles, the duo travels throughout the realms, trying to stay a step ahead of North’s nefarious nemesis, Dorwan, and the impending war he seeks to bring. Sydelle is a feisty heroine, and the sparks between her and North quickly ignite as their banter and relationship gradually warm. Based on Bracken’s 2010 YA fantasy of the same name, this full-color graphic adaptation lowers its protagonists’ ages a bit for a middle-grade audience. Imbued with magic and romance, it holds true to fairy-tale tropes; those looking for a comfort read should heartily enjoy the journey to its happy ending. Seaton’s exciting and expressive illustrations keep their perspective squarely focused on the action. Both Sydelle and North present white; secondary characters have more varied skin tones.

A homespun fairy tale full of spells, secrets, and romance. (Graphic fantasy. 8-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-01588-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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