A multilayered blend of suspense, mythology and the supernatural, anchored by a thoughtful, young heroine.

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TAKING JENNY HOME

In her first YA fantasy novel, Kane (Creative Writing, 2002, etc.) deftly weaves the absorbing tale of a shape-shifting Irish wizard, a lethal ghost, a cursed island and a modern-day young girl who may be able to put everything right.

Kane pulls out all the stops in her lively debut fantasy for teens and older tweens. Twelve-year-old Kaitlin, her little brother, poet father and artist mother have moved to Merlin’s Island off the coast of Maine to run an inn. The venture is failing, though, and the island is reputed to be cursed and haunted by the bloody ghost of a “fire-born changeling.” With the appearance of mysterious stranger Michael McClure, the family’s luck turns around; in no time, the inn is a bustling success. Is it merely a coincidence, or is Michael the mythical Irish sea-wizard Manannan Mac Lir, summoned by Kaitlin’s secret prayer? If so, has he been drawn by the island’s curse as well? Is a little girl’s ghost killing people with a bloody touch? And is Kaitlin actually a “true witch,” with the power to help heal the island and dispel its ghost? In this colorful, well-crafted fantasy, Kane easily keeps all of these plates spinning and more: Why does Kaitlin’s mom paint a disturbing and perhaps prescient piece of art? Is the sudden alliance between town busybody Mrs. Roseberry and antiques dealer Sheridan Lockwood more nefarious than simple rumormongering? The singing voices of both Kaitlin and Mac Lir prove crucial to the plot, as do the ancient Chain of Mongan that Kaitlin wears as Michael’s protective gift and a “witch’s scope” sent to Kaitlin by eccentric Dr. Castlemaine for use only in a dire supernatural emergency. Kane brings the diverse plotlines together in a satisfying, fiery crescendo of magical events that feature the redemptive act of a golden-eyed stag and a vivid depiction of Kaitlin’s courageous struggle to tap into a mystical song of healing. In a teasing question-mark twist as the novel draws to a close, the islanders try rationalize the inexplicable: Did any of it really happen? Either way, in Kane’s capable hands, the magic lingers for Kaitlin and for readers.

A multilayered blend of suspense, mythology and the supernatural, anchored by a thoughtful, young heroine. 

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-615-42302-9

Page Count: 250

Publisher: New Dublin Press

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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