PERLOO THE BOLD

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE

Sophie is caught between a powerful witch and wizard who are terrorizing the magical land of Ingary. Living a humdrum life as a hatter till the malicious Witch of the Waste casts a spell turning her into an old woman, Sophie seeks refuge as cleaning woman to Wizard Howl (although he's rumored to eat the hearts of young girls) in his castle, which moves at will about the countryside. Actually, Howl is a brash young man whose only vice is womanizing. He is a gifted wizard but the despair of his inept apprentice and of Calcifer, a humorously petulant fire demon, because of such human faults as messiness and spending too long in the bath. As in her memorable Archer's Goon, Jones has a plethora of characters who are seldom what they seem and an intricate plot which may dazzle with its complexity or delight by the hilarious common-sense consequences of its preposterous premises. Sophie is a dauntless heroine; when she regains her youth and wins Howl, the odds are this is only the beginning of a tempestuous romance. Great fun.

Pub Date: April 14, 1986

ISBN: 0061478784

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1986

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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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