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From the Enchanted Files series , Vol. 1

A knee-slapper in this or any edition.

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: March 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme.

An age-old rivalry is reluctantly put aside when two young vacationers are lost in the wilderness.

Anthropomorphic—in body if definitely not behavior—Dogg Scout Oscar and pampered Molly Hissleton stray from their separate camps, meet by chance in a trackless magic forest, and almost immediately recognize that their only chance of survival, distasteful as the notion may be, lies in calling a truce. Patterson and Grabenstein really work the notion here that cooperation is better than prejudice founded on ignorance and habit, interspersing explicit exchanges on the topic while casting the squabbling pair with complementary abilities that come out as they face challenges ranging from finding food to escaping such predators as a mountain lion and a pack of vicious “weaselboars.” By the time they cross a wide river (on a raft steered by “Old Jim,” an otter whose homespun utterances are generally cribbed from Mark Twain—an uneasy reference) back to civilization, the two are BFFs. But can that friendship survive the return, with all the social and familial pressures to resume the old enmity? A climactic cage-match–style confrontation before a worked-up multispecies audience provides the answer. In the illustrations (not seen in finished form) López plops wide-eyed animal heads atop clothed, more or less human forms and adds dialogue balloons for punchlines.

A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-41156-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Epic—in plot, not length—and as wise and wonderful as Gerald Morris’ Arthurian exploits.

Who needs dragons when there are Terrible Lizards to be fought?

Having recklessly boasted to King Arthur and the court that he’d slain 40 dragons, Sir Erec can hardly refuse when Merlin offers him more challenging foes…and so it is that in no time (so to speak), Erec, with bookish Sir Hector, the silent and enigmatic Black Knight, and blustering Sir Bors with his thin but doughty squire, Mel, in tow, are hewing away at fearsome creatures sporting natural armor and weapons every bit as effective as knightly ones. Happily, while all the glorious mashing and bashing leads to awesome feats aplenty—who would suspect that a ravening T. Rex could be decked by a well-placed punch to the jaw?—when the dust settles neither bloodshed nor permanent injury has been dealt to either side. Better yet, not even the stunning revelation that two of the Three Stooges–style bumblers aren’t what they seem (“Anyone else here a girl?”) keeps the questers from developing into a well-knit team capable of repeatedly saving one another’s bacon. Phelan endows the all-white human cast with finely drawn, eloquently expressive faces but otherwise works in a loose, movement-filled style, pitting his clanking crew against an almost nonstop onslaught of toothy monsters in a monochrome mix of single scenes and occasional wordless sequential panels.

Epic—in plot, not length—and as wise and wonderful as Gerald Morris’ Arthurian exploits. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-268623-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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