Though Philip Pullman did it earlier and funnier with I Was a Rat! (2000), this take still feels fresh enough, despite...

THE RAT PRINCE

A new “Cinderella” retelling includes the perspective of a rat living in her home.

Chapters alternate narration between Char, the titular Rat Prince, and Cinderella. Though Char initially believes Cinderella is an idiot, allowing abuse from her stepmother and stepsister, it’s soon apparent to him and to readers that Cinderella is shrewd and biding her time. When Char discovers that Cinderella is to attend a royal ball where the human prince will choose a bride, he investigates at the palace, hoping to learn that the prince is worthy of her (he’s not). Meanwhile, Cinderella unwittingly summons her family’s goddess, who plays the fairy-godmother role, with Char arriving on scene just in time to be transformed into a human footman. Much occurs in the short span of hours of the ball, including Cinderella’s falling in love with the transformed Char (almost instantly) and the goddess playing deus ex machina, fixing all problems (save one) in a fairy-tale–tidy ending. The cover illustration of Char, a black rat (Cinderella calls him “Blackie”), is lit in such a way that readers may mistakenly perceive light fur; Cinderella’s lovingly described physical attributes—her blonde hair, pale skin, and oft-praised “tiny” waist—play into tired and damaging tropes. Still, Cinderella is fairly empowered for a damsel in distress.

Though Philip Pullman did it earlier and funnier with I Was a Rat! (2000), this take still feels fresh enough, despite misgivings. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30213-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Tales that “lay out your options for painful and interesting ways to die.” And to live.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK HEROES

In a similarly hefty companion to Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods (2014), the most voluble of Poseidon’s many sons dishes on a dozen more ancient relatives and fellow demigods.

Riordan averts his young yarn spinner’s eyes from the sex but not the stupidity, violence, malice, or bad choices that drive so many of the old tales. He leavens full, refreshingly tart accounts of the ups and downs of such higher-profile heroes as Theseus, Orpheus, Hercules, and Jason with the lesser-known but often equally awesome exploits of such butt-kicking ladies as Atalanta, Otrera (the first Amazon), and lion-wrestling Cyrene. In thought-provoking contrast, Psyche comes off as no less heroic, even though her story is less about general slaughter than the tough “Iron Housewives quests” Aphrodite forces her to undertake to rescue her beloved Eros. Furthermore, along with snarky chapter heads (“Phaethon Fails Driver’s Ed”), the contemporary labor includes references to Jay-Z, Apple Maps, god-to-god texting, and the like—not to mention the way the narrator makes fun of hard-to-pronounce names and points up such character flaws as ADHD (Theseus) and anger management issues (Hercules). The breezy treatment effectively blows off at least some of the dust obscuring the timeless themes in each hero’s career. In Rocco’s melodramatically murky illustrations, men and women alike display rippling thews and plenty of skin as they battle ravening monsters.

Tales that “lay out your options for painful and interesting ways to die.” And to live. (maps, index) (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8365-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

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GIRL'S BEST FRIEND

From the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries series

In this series debut, Maggie Sinclair tracks down a dognapper and solves a mystery about the noises in the walls of her Brooklyn brownstone apartment building. The 12-year-old heroine, who shares a middle name—Brooklyn—with her twin brother, Finn, is juggling two dogwalking jobs she’s keeping secret from her parents, and somehow she attracts the ire of the dogs’ former walker. Maggie tells her story in the first person—she’s self-possessed and likable, even when her clueless brother invites her ex–best friend, now something of an enemy, to their shared 12th birthday party. Maggie’s attention to details helps her to figure out why dogs seem to be disappearing and why there seem to be mice in the walls of her building, though astute readers will pick up on the solution to at least one mystery before Maggie solves it. There’s a brief nod to Nancy Drew, but the real tensions in this contemporary preteen story are more about friendship and boy crushes than skullduggery. Still, the setting is appealing, and Maggie is a smart and competent heroine whose personal life is just as interesting as—if not more than—her detective work. (Mystery. 10-13)

   

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 967-1-59990-525-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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