Mannered but pleasantly peculiar.



From the Ottoline series , Vol. 4

In her fourth adventure a young sleuth makes new friends both human and otherwise, organizes a costume party, and fosters a romance.

At the invitation of a nattily clad fox with purple fur who has turned one of her elegant apartment building’s rubbish bins into comfortable digs of his own, Ottoline Brown takes an “Urban Safari” that introduces her to her city’s nocturnal animal residents. These range from meerkats popping out of manholes, herds of tiny zebras, and blue flamingos roosting on the public library’s roof to the Crimson Vixen, a street poet who works as the fox’s assistant but is too shy to show that she has feelings for him. Having learned this last at the party, Ottoline and her silent, hairy companion, Mr. Munroe, organize a talent show that culminates in triumph with the vulpine couple engaging in an intimate (wait for it) foxtrot. As in previous episodes, this fey tale is related in a mix of short narrative passages with many fantastically meticulous line drawings featuring bold monochrome highlights (purple, here) and gracefully posed figures in finely detailed garb and surroundings. Ottoline heads a large cast of friends and housekeepers that is less diverse of race and ethnicity than of species, but, bearing as she does a distinct resemblance to Eloise in her upper-class, parent-free lifestyle, she continues to exhibit appealing self-confidence no matter how odd or surreal the situation. Riddell twice provides folding directions for a paper “Fancy Dress Fortune Teller” tucked into a rear pocket.

Mannered but pleasantly peculiar. (Graphic fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4472-7792-7

Page Count: 193

Publisher: Macmillan UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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A sure draw for the Kung-Fu Panda crowd, high on body count but low on gory details, it doesn't take itself too seriously...


From the Shark Wars series , Vol. 2

Toothy rivals introduced in the opener, Shark Wars (2011), unite in the sequel to battle an army of shark invaders from the far end of the Big Blue.

Having learned that he’s not fat (or “big-cartilaged,” as he prefers to put it) but a supersized prehistoric Megalodon, young Gray is propelled into playing a leading role in repelling a disciplined force of shark troops from Indi, led by King Finnivus, a spoiled and vicious brat with visions of world conquest. Fortunately, Gray is being tutored in martial “Shar-kata” by Takiza, an ancient and bad-tempered betta (Siamese fighting fish). He also finds common purpose with other “shivers” (the basic shark communal unit—though more open-minded shivers admit other species too) and discovers unexpected allies who arrive (thanks to Takiza’s ability to span entire oceans with magical speed) in the nick of time to turn the tide of the climactic battle. When Gray cries, or pants with exhaustion, the overall anthropomorphic conceit wears thin, but Altbacker expends some effort concocting his undersea setting and fills out the finny cast with familiar martial-arts–style character types.

A sure draw for the Kung-Fu Panda crowd, high on body count but low on gory details, it doesn't take itself too seriously and is fully sequel-enabled. (Animal fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59514-377-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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Bold deeds, betrayals, and buffoonery kick off this series with gusto.


From the Wild Ones series , Vol. 1

Treacherous urban pets try to renege on an ancient deal with the wild residents of a city alleyway, and a young raccoon finds himself caught in the middle in this all-animal dramedy.

His parents done in by a pack of hired bloodhounds, Kit flees his beloved woodlands for squalid Ankle Snap Alley, a wretched hive of scum and villainy, where he immediately falls afoul of a pair of raccoon hustlers and the feared Rabid Rascals gang. Worse yet, he is also targeted by miniature greyhound Titus, leader of the Flealess (or house pets), and vicious cat Sixclaw. They think he carries a possible clue to the whereabouts of the missing Bone of Contention that accords the alley’s formerly feral residents a right to settle there. Fortunately, Kit not only falls in with Eeni, a savvy rat who vows friendship “from howl to snap” (i.e., birth to, well…), but finds other allies too while proving himself no slouch when it comes to quick thinking and courage in the clutch. Despite metal traps springing and some spilled blood, the tale features but one onstage death; London further lightens the load with references to such appetizing alley cuisine as Daily Trash Casserole plus a diverse supporting cast highlighted by evangelical church mice and a retired fighting cock–turned-hairdresser.

Bold deeds, betrayals, and buffoonery kick off this series with gusto. (Animal fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-17099-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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