A knee-slapper in this or any edition.


From the Enchanted Files series , Vol. 1

A dedicated slob and a neatnik brownie, both with fierce tempers, face off in this much-expanded version of Coville’s short story “Clean as a Whistle,” published in Oddly Enough (1994).

Coming home from school one day, young Alexandra is utterly freaked out to find her formerly chaotic bedroom neat as a pin—the work, it turns out, of her family’s ancestral brownie, Angus Cairns, newly arrived from distant Scotland. Along with adding background history, the author recasts the shorter, original tale in a mix of journal entries by both Angus and Alex, interspersed with chat transcripts and other insertions. Coville also saddles the beleaguered brownie with a double curse: not only must Angus tend certain female members of the McGonagall line in each generation, but every male member of the household will at the same time be struck by an uncontrollable need to write bad, bad poetry. So, as Angus and Alex sort through anger issues on the way to a not-too-hard-won détente, they are subjected to such outpourings as “Oh no! I’ve caught the itch of love, / My ookie wookie turtledove” from her dad and teenage brother. Fortunately for both characters and readers, a way to break both curses lies fortuitously close at hand. Kidby provides engagingly posed pen-and-ink portraits of the various mundane and magical cast members, as well as a particularly demonic-looking cat.

A knee-slapper in this or any edition. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-39247-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves.


Two shelter cats take on a mysterious puss with weird powers who is terrorizing the feline community.

Hardly have timorous (and aptly named) Poop and her sophisticated buddy, Pasha, been brought home by their new “human beans” for a two-week trial than they are accosted by fiery-eyed Scaredy Cat, utterly trashing the kitchen with a click of his claws and, hissing that he’s in charge of the neighborhood, threatening that if they don’t act like proper cats—disdaining ordinary cat food and any summons (they are not dogs, after all), clawing the furniture instead of the scratching post, and showing like “cattitude”—it’ll be back to the shelter for them. Will Poop and Pasha prove to be fraidycats or flee to the cowed clowder of homeless cats hiding from the bully in the nearby woods? Nope, they are made of sterner stuff and resolutely set out to enlist feline allies in a “quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of purrs!” Cast into a gazillion very short chapters related by furry narrators Poop and Pasha, who are helpfully depicted in portrait vignettes by Herzog at each chapter’s head, the ensuing adventures test the defiant kitties’ courage (and, in some cases, attention spans) on the way to a spooky but poignant climax set, appropriately enough as it happens, in a pet graveyard.

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves. (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49443-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...


At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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