MARTIN THE WARRIOR

The generic Jacques yarn features an intrepid mouse aided by a stalwart squirrel, a bumbling, country-accented but doughty mole or hedgehog, and a seemingly foppish but actually steely hare; these precious few face a monstrous warlord (here, a weasel) and his motley crew. Overcoming all vicissitudes, they storm an evil hold, scale cliffs, and invoke the spirit of animals past while keeping up their present spirits with nature's bounty—endless cordials, nut-breads, and berry comfits. Lately, a heroic maid, too, appears, a leader of animals yet sweet to the core. The unmelancholy Jacques follows the pattern to the dot with this current offering, a tale of the origins of Redwall Abbey's founder. The language may be hackneyed, but it works; young readers love the derring do, and only a churl would reject this morality play in fur. Enjoy. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 1994

ISBN: 0-399-22670-2

Page Count: 375

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1994

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THE NIGHT DANCE

Weak writing ruins a nicely structured integration of Arthurian legend with a Grimm’s fairy tale. Rowena’s locked up with her 11 sisters because her father’s afraid that they’ll disappear like their mother, Vivienne, the Lady of the Lake. Each night they disappear underground, where dancing destroys their elegant slippers. Elsewhere, Sir Bedivere promises a dying King Arthur to return Excalibur to Vivienne. Bedivere and Rowena share reciprocal mystical visions in which they fall in love. The sisters’ nightly dancing, as well as their goal of finding their lost mother, leads to the same enchanted underground lake as Bedivere’s task of honor. Details of “Twelve Dancing Princesses” are skillfully woven in with the Camelot plot; however, the text is cluttered with modifiers, the narration is unsubtle and trite and the workings of magic are shallow. Instead, see Vivian Vande Velde’s Book of Mordred (July 2005) and Dia Calhoun’s Phoenix Dance (October 2005). (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-4169-0579-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2005

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Auxier has a juggler’s dexterity with prose that makes this fantastical tale quicken the senses, even if it does bog down...

PETER NIMBLE AND HIS FANTASTIC EYES

What begins Dickensian turns Tolkien-esque in this quest replete with magic and mystery.

Peter Nimble is an orphan. Blinded by ravens in infancy and made to steal for the town’s beggar-monger (think Fagin), Peter becomes an expert thief and pickpocket. His wretched existence changes when he steals a box containing eggs that are actually three pairs of magical eyes. When Peter drops the first pair into his eye-sockets, he’s instantly swept away. Thus begins a perilous adventure wrought from a riddle found in a bottle. After much travail, Peter learns that the mysterious eyes are not always dependable. He seeks and eventually finds a vanished kingdom, where he faces a tyrannical king. The king has brainwashed all the adults and enslaved all of their children, who are controlled by a horde of bloodthirsty apes. The action never flags, even though the suspense does. With one onslaught after another, the violence turns from suggested to overt, with weaponry and bloody battles. Solving the riddle and embracing his destiny are just the beginning of Peter’s problems. In the end it’s Peter’s true talents, not magic, that prove most reliable.

Auxier has a juggler’s dexterity with prose that makes this fantastical tale quicken the senses, even if it does bog down from time to time. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0025-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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