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After five sparkling initial chapters, this Pied Piper retelling takes a sudden dive in quality and seems to switch genres. The opening scene features blissfully enchanted children dancing through Hamelin, trailing the Pied Piper away from their town forever. He leads them under Hamelin Hill and out the other side into Elvendale, an idyllic landscape of lush meadows and cozy farms, populated by “tall, handsome people…with long, flowing hair, bright eyes, and a stealthy, catlike grace to their movements.” The Piper is such an elf, but cursed for centuries for killing a stag in a forbidden forest: Each full moon, he bleeds afresh from a long-healed thigh wound and morphs into a bloodthirsty Beast. He steals Hamelin’s children in the hopes of passing his curse along to an unknown special child with elven powers—Marianne or crippled brother Jakob, who are unknowingly half-elf. Weatherill’s prose is warm and appealing on the Pied Piper arc, but her elven magic and curses vary between clichéd and too random, rendering the overall piece forgettable. A shame. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9799-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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Flattened once more, this time not by a falling bulletin board but a double blow to his elusive “Osteal Balance Point”—or so says family GP Dr. Dan—Stanley Lambchop gets two more chances to play the hero before popping back into shape. First he becomes a human spinnaker in a sailboat race, then he worms his way through the wreckage of a collapsed building to rescue ever-rude classmate Emma Weeks. Alluding to previous episodes, Stanley complains, “Why me? Why am I always getting flat, or invisible, or something?” Mr. Lambchop replies, “But things often happen without there seeming to be a reason, and then something else happens, and suddenly the first thing seems to have had a purpose after all.” Perhaps—even if that purpose is just to tread water, as Brown does here. Still, with its cartoon illustrations, well-leaded text and general goofiness, this retread is as likely to draw transitional readers as the perennial favorite Flat Stanley (1964) and its sequels. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-009551-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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