A shy boy blossoms in this surprisingly witty debut.

VODNÍK

An American teen encounters monsters both fantastical and human in the land of his birth.

After a fire destroys their home, Tomas and his parents move to Slovakia, a country Tomas hasn't seen since he was 5 years old. He's unconcerned about the move; scarred from a childhood fire and painfully shy, Tomas hasn't got any friends to leave behind. Trencín, at first, seems wonderful. There's a truly fabulous castle, and he's made his first real friend: his cousin Katka. But Katka is dangerously ill, and Tomas' attempts to help are complicated by his first experiences with racism. In the United States, Tomas is white; in Slovakia, the olive skin he inherited from his Roma grandfather marks him as a Gypsy and a valid target for abuse. Nothing can help Tomas—and more importantly, Katka—except the mythical creatures Tomas started seeing almost as soon as he landed in Slovakia. It's unclear whether he can trust the watery vodník or the fire víla, but they both promised to help. A first encounter with racism blends well with a compelling fantasy adventure (although Tomas's family, lacking any Romani culture or traditions, reiterates some of racism themselves; his mother explains how they are worthy of praise because they are "not like other Roma").

A shy boy blossoms in this surprisingly witty debut. (author's note, further reading) (Fantasy. 11-16)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60060-852-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Tu Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike.

EVIL THING

A VILLAINS GRAPHIC NOVEL

From the Villains series

A chronicle of Cruella De Vil’s descent into Dalmatian destruction.

The only child of Lord and Lady De Vil, Cruella was enamored by high society life from a young age. She idolized her cold, demanding mother and loved her caring father, despite his giving her less extravagant gifts. Both parents wanted her to distinguish herself, though they intended very different meanings by that word. While young Cruella believed that servants and others from less privileged backgrounds should know their places, Anita, her less socially lofty best friend, was an exception. But as she grew up and married, she had to face the question of what it really meant to possess wealth, beauty, and happiness. Framed as a memoir, this story vividly expresses Cruella’s personality. Valentino does a solid job of establishing the cast of characters, and fans of the animated film will enjoy connecting the threads. While there are moments of softness that evoke readers’ empathy, Cruella unapologetically wields her power to behave cruelly. She is ultimately fueled by her desperation for maternal validation, jealousy, delirium, and a perhaps-cursed pair of earrings. Jovellanos’ art deftly captures a range of emotions, specifically in showing how Cruella’s face is transformed in response to her whims. Using a color palette of muted reds, blacks, grays, and whites, the illustrations express a fitting tone for a Cruella tell-all. Characters read as White.

Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike. (Graphic fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-06816-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Sanderson (Legion, 2018, etc.) plainly had a ball with this nonstop, highflying opener, and readers will too.

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SKYWARD

From the Skyward series , Vol. 1

Eager to prove herself, the daughter of a flier disgraced for cowardice hurls herself into fighter pilot training to join a losing war against aliens.

Plainly modeled as a cross between Katniss Everdeen and Conan the Barbarian (“I bathed in fires of destruction and reveled in the screams of the defeated. I didn’t get afraid”), Spensa “Spin” Nightshade leaves her previous occupation—spearing rats in the caverns of the colony planet Detritus for her widowed mother’s food stand—to wangle a coveted spot in the Defiant Defense Force’s flight school. Opportunities to exercise wild recklessness and growing skill begin at once, as the class is soon in the air, battling the mysterious Krell raiders who have driven people underground. Spensa, who is assumed white, interacts with reasonably diverse human classmates with varying ethnic markers. M-Bot, a damaged AI of unknown origin, develops into a comical sidekick: “Hello!...You have nearly died, and so I will say something to distract you from the serious, mind-numbing implications of your own mortality! I hate your shoes.” Meanwhile, hints that all is not as it seems, either with the official story about her father or the whole Krell war in general, lead to startling revelations and stakes-raising implications by the end. Stay tuned. Maps and illustrations not seen.

Sanderson (Legion, 2018, etc.) plainly had a ball with this nonstop, highflying opener, and readers will too. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-55577-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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