A little incoherent—but enjoyable for all that.

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THE FERAL CHILD

The dark side of faerie for a younger crowd.

Thirteen-year-old Maddy, living with her grandparents in an Irish village since the deaths of her parents, is a horror of a child. She snarls at her grandparents, is rude to her cousins and is friendly only with Stephen, the toddler next door. It’s no surprise she’s snappish and violent when a boy accosts her on the grounds of a tourist-trap “faerie kingdom.” Unsurprisingly, it’s a poor idea to be rude to strangers on a faerie mound, however ostensibly artificial the mound may be. That very night, Maddy watches in terror as the strange boy—now long of ear and sharp of tooth—kidnaps Stephen. The need to rescue Stephen brings Maddy and two of her cousins into a twisted wintertime Tír na nÓg, its Irish (and somewhat Narnia-inflected) character mixing with a mishmash of names from Norse, Roman, Blackfeet and Inuit myth and history—there’s even a twiggy dryad with an Afro. At first, Maddy’s behavior is hardly heroic; when her grandparents refuse to support her story about Stephen’s abduction, she “sulk[s] and stomp[s] about the house all day,” and her treatment of her cousins at the beginning of the quest is harshly critical. The fantasyland adventure brings the three children together in predictable-if-satisfying ways, however, and feral little Maddy becomes almost likable.

A little incoherent—but enjoyable for all that. (glossary) (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62365-120-6

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Quercus

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that...

BEN FRANKLIN'S IN MY BATHROOM!

Antics both instructive and embarrassing ensue after a mysterious package left on their doorstep brings a Founding Father into the lives of two modern children.

Summoned somehow by what looks for all the world like an old-time crystal radio set, Ben Franklin turns out to be an amiable sort. He is immediately taken in hand by 7-year-old Olive for a tour of modern wonders—early versions of which many, from electrical appliances in the kitchen to the Illinois town’s public library and fire department, he justly lays claim to inventing. Meanwhile big brother Nolan, 10, tags along, frantic to return him to his own era before either their divorced mom or snoopy classmate Tommy Tuttle sees him. Fleming, author of Ben Franklin’s Almanac (2003) (and also, not uncoincidentally considering the final scene of this outing, Our Eleanor, 2005), mixes history with humor as the great man dispenses aphorisms and reminiscences through diverse misadventures, all of which end well, before vanishing at last. Following a closing, sequel-cueing kicker (see above) she then separates facts from fancies in closing notes, with print and online leads to more of the former. To go with spot illustrations of the evidently all-white cast throughout the narrative, Fearing incorporates change-of-pace sets of sequential panels for Franklin’s biographical and scientific anecdotes. Final illustrations not seen.

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that adds flavor without weight. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93406-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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