A story with a delicate, intriguing voice, but its philosophy may not appeal to everyone.

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PEARL

A sentient statue, deep in the ocean, falls in love with her rescuer, only to be separated from him in this fablelike novel for middle-grade readers.

On the seafloor stands a sculpture of a pretty girl “carved from the purest milk-white stone.” Then a boy diver, Niko, lifts her from the seabed with ropes, dubbing her Pearl. He fantasizes aloud about standing with Pearl on the balcony of a pink stucco hotel, and she falls in love with him; over time, though, he grows up while Pearl stays the same. When Niko sells Pearl, her heart breaks. In her new home, a statue of a wise old man explains that “We are the solidified dreams of a sculptor”; they can also talk and think in what he calls the “old language,” or the speech of the “Big Dream from which we all…are born….We silently speak to [people], helping them to recall what they have lost and forgotten.” The sage instructs Pearl about the world and its secrets (for example, that “Knowledge, and her sister Wisdom, are born from Ideas”); Pearl listens closely, hoping to find a way back to Niko. Her greatest wish is to be flesh and blood, and the Sage advises her to “utter [her] improbable desire to the stars.” A local revolution among humans brings chaos, and Pearl is eventually sold to a pink stucco hotel. There, she makes a final, earnest wish. Kindall (Delivering Virtue, 2015, etc.) taps into the mythic for this fable about rejoining life after having been frozen—a storyline that readers could interpret psychologically, spiritually, or intellectually as a reawakening. The Sage’s education of Pearl fits in with the human idea of growing up, leaving childhood behind, and understanding one’s greater place in the world. Although the book is aimed at children, adults are more likely to find interest in the Sage’s ideas. However, they’re also more likely to criticize them; for example, if “the Cosmos is in league with every one of its inhabitants,” for example, then why do so many innocents suffer?

A story with a delicate, intriguing voice, but its philosophy may not appeal to everyone.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9909328-3-3

Page Count: 172

Publisher: Diving Boy Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2017

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A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath...

GREGORY AND THE GRIMBOCKLE

In this debut middle-grade novel, a lonely boy finds friendship and learns about the magic of human connection.

Defined by the large mole on his lip, 10-year-old Gregory has grown distant from his family. He is friendless and withdrawn. Then one night a strange little creature emerges from Gregory’s mole. It is riding a (quite lovable) cockroach and can change size. This is the Grimbockle. The Grimbockle—one of many Bockles, who, like Palmer Cox’s Brownies, live at the peripheries of human awareness—tends to the exoodles that bind people together. Exoodles are long, transparent, noodlelike threads and are usually invisible. Once Gregory has his eyeballs painted with Carrot Juicy, though, he can see them. He joins the Grimbockle and the roach, traveling the exoodles as if on a high-speed roller coaster. Exoodles wither and die when people don’t look after their relationships. The Grimbockle is trying to repair a particularly sickly exoodle that links a boy to his mother. Can Gregory help—and can he mend the exoodles in his own life? Schubert follows delightedly in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, opening her unfortunate young protagonist’s eyes to a previously unseen world both weird and wondrous (yet for all its outlandish magic, oddly logical). The scenario is one of riotous imagination, while the Grimbockle himself—brought sweetly to life in black-and-white illustrations by Kraft—is a sprightly and good-natured little person, full of the type of singsong infelicities found in Dahl’s beloved nonhuman characters: “Is you ever seeing glimpses of squiggles in the corners of your twinklers but then they is disappearing in a snippety blink?” “ ‘Exoodles!’ shouted the Grimbockle in triumph. ‘Sometimes, hoo-mans is getting so twisty and wound up in extra exoodles that they is feeling gloomy blue and heavy all day long.’ ” The story is perhaps too much of a parable to fully match Dahl’s template; the adventure is safer and the threats less dark. Nonetheless, readers should fall willingly and with thrilled abandon into the fizzy, fanciful world of Gregory and his Grimbockle friend.

A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath surface appearances.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9911109-3-3

Page Count: 153

Publisher: New Wrinkle Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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A story with a tried-and-true plot that needs to freshen up its presentation.

The Lost Little Rabbit

A lost bunny searches for his mother in this debut picture book.

The youngster is already lost in the beginning of Lakhiani’s version of the time-honored tale of a lost child reuniting witha parent. On a foggy day, a young rabbit finds that he doesn’t recognize where he is. He calls for his mother, but instead of her voice in response, he hears the hum of a bumblebee. The nameless little rabbit asks if the bee knows where his home is, but the bee doesn’t and sends him on to the wise owl, who “sees everything.” As the little rabbit runs through the “eerie” fog toward the owl’s tree, he meets a kind squirrel. “I’ve lost my mother….I am lost and scared,” explains the little rabbit. The squirrel leads the rabbit to the wise owl’s tree, which the rabbit climbs to ask the owl, “[C]an you see where I live?” The fog is too thick for the owl to spot little rabbit’s home, so he gives the little rabbit a snack and invites him to rest. Falling asleep, the little rabbit dreams of his mother but is awakened by the hooting, buzzing and chattering of his three new friends. Looking around, he sees his mother, who embraces him: “I will never again let you out of my sight,” she tells him. The digitized art by Adams, some of which is credited to Thinkstock, is in a cartoon style that clearly delineates the characters but includes a few anthropomorphic details—a graduation cap for the owl, spectacles for the squirrel and only four legs for the bee—that add little value. Since the story centers on the little rabbit failing to recognize where he is, the choice to make the right-hand page of every spread identical is potentially confusing; regardless, it’s repetitious. The text fails in the opposite direction: It doesn’t create the typical patterns that can help toddlers follow the story, build anticipation and learn to chime in—steps on the path to reading alone. Erratic rhythms, changing stanza lengths and rhyme schemes, and awkward syntax undercut attempts to enliven the tale with poetry.

A story with a tried-and-true plot that needs to freshen up its presentation.

Pub Date: May 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491895603

Page Count: 24

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2015

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