A thought-provoking if not particularly successful experiment.

THE PATUA PINOCCHIO

Illustrations done in a style indigenous to West Bengal test the universality of Collodi’s classic puppet-to-boy tale.

In the text, which is Della Chiesa’s 1925 translation abridged to about half its length, proper names—Mastro Antonio, Geppetto, Pulcinella—preserve the original’s Italian flavor. Chitrakar’s almond-eyed, dark- or golden-skinned figures definitely push that envelope. Chocolate-hued Pinocchio, clad only in a tightly wrapped loincloth and sporting a white pectoral to go with similarly lacy armlets and anklets, bears a heavy-lidded, enigmatically smiling expression throughout. This last is in keeping, as explained in the afterword, with the artist’s conception of him as a “lovable yet godly trickster figure,” like Krishna. Other humans are clad in loose traditional Bengali dress and drawn, like the animal characters, in heavy-lined, stylized ways that don’t always agree with the text. The azure-haired maiden, for instance, “face white as wax,” is honey-colored in the accompanying portrait. The depicted action, too, is so stylized that few if any readers would be able to connect pictures to story without prompts from the captions.

A thought-provoking if not particularly successful experiment. (afterword) (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-93-83145-12-6

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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A patchy tale flickering repeatedly from light to dark and back.

TWAIN'S TREASURE

From the Phantom Files series

Alex’s ability to talk with ghosts puts him in famous company when he and his mom move to Hannibal, Missouri.

Alex, 13, is driven by bitter determination to keep his lifelong ability secret, since it’s already led to a diagnosis of schizophrenia that drove his parents apart and cost his mother a decent job, but it’s not easy. For one thing, his new friend, Bones, is a positively obsessed amateur ghost hunter, and for another, ghosts just won’t leave him alone no matter how rudely he treats them. Notable among the latter is Mark Twain himself, as acerbic and wily as he was in life, who is on the verge of involuntarily degenerating into a raging poltergeist unless Alex can find the unspecified, titular treasure. Alex’s search takes him through Clemens’ writings and tragic private life as well as many of the town’s related attractions on the way to a fiery climax in the public library. Meanwhile, Alex has an apotheosis of his own, deciding that lying to conceal his ability and his unhappy past isn’t worth the sacrifice of a valued friendship. Conveniently for the plot’s needs, Clemens and other ghosts can interact with the physical world at will. Wolfe parlays Alex’s ingrained inability to ignore ectoplasmic accosters into some amusing cross-conversations that help lighten his protagonist’s hard inner tests. The cast, living and otherwise, presents as white.

A patchy tale flickering repeatedly from light to dark and back. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-940924-29-8

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Dreaming Robot

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

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The premise is better than the execution, but readers who aren’t bothered by arbitrary notions and unlikely situations will...

DUCK BOY

A teenager takes up alchemy where his suddenly vanished mom left off and falls afoul of police, vicious thugs and a digital intelligence determined to separate him into generic components.

Battling grief and a loser mentality (the latter reinforced by widespread derision after a quixotic attempt to save a duck frozen into a pond), Steve is electrified when his eccentric great-aunt Shannon transforms an ordinary “clock” into a “lock.” She informs him that he, too, can use words to work transformations—and perhaps discover what happened to his mother. Stronger on action than logic, the plot then proceeds to evolve into a wild tangle. On the one hand, Steve is pursued by police for a series of kidnappings and house trashings that are actually the work of rival alchemist John Dee and his murderous crew, and on the other, he travels back and forth between this plane and a “World of Pieces” where everything is made of numbers and a hypnotic voice urges him to dissolve into a protean liquid. Bunn works a predictable transformation on Steve, who rescues everybody, and caps his debut with a tidy, melodramatic, thoroughly contrived happy ending.

The premise is better than the execution, but readers who aren’t bothered by arbitrary notions and unlikely situations will enjoy the nonstop action. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-938463-60-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bitingduck Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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