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Fans of Brian Jacques's Redwall doorstoppers will hear echoes in this animal fantasy, although Avi (Poppy and Rye, p. 808, etc.) not only has the vegetarians attacking the carnivores, but throws in other clever twists too. A mild-mannered, rabbit-like Montmer, Perloo is drawn away from his books when the dying Montmer "granter" dubs him her successor. When the seat of power is instantly usurped by the granter's son Berwig the Big and his greasy advisor Senyous the Sly, Perloo is forced to flee to the coyote-like Felbarts, traditional enemies against whom Berwig has proclaimed a war to cement his position. Amid a welter of captures and escapes, Perloo's doughty ally Lucabara gathers her friends for an uprising at home, Berwig and Senyous reveal the depths of their stupidity and villainy, and Perloo discovers that the Felbarts aren't so bad. When the rival armies finally meet, Perloo faces Senyous in single combat. Drawing on his one martial skill, Perloo defeats Senyous with a barrage of snowballs, after which the cowardly Berwig renounces his grantership, and Perloo, declaring that henceforth all Montmer decisions will he made collectively, does too. For all the soldiers and warlike behavior here, the story is free of bloodshed, and if the characters are less robust than Redwall's stars, they're also less typecast. Perhaps inevitably, there are plenty of loose ends to tie up in a sequel.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-590-11002-0

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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

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

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. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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