A wonderfully entertaining twist on an old classic.



From the Queen of Hearts series , Vol. 1

A story set in the world of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as seen from a very different perspective.

Fifteen-year-old Dinah is the Princess of Hearts, the daughter and heir of the fearsome King of Hearts. But her life isn’t exactly easy: She’s awkward, plump and unattractive, and the butt of jokes from the palace courtiers and even the servants. Her mother died when she was a child, and her father ignores her except to criticize her. Dinah would give anything to win her father’s approval, and when the king unexpectedly summons her, she hopes she’ll have the chance to do so. But to her horror, the king has called an audience to announce to the court that he has an illegitimate daughter named Vittiore, whom he’s brought to the palace to live with the royal family as a duchess. Vittiore’s beauty makes her an instant favorite with the court and the king, which makes Dinah hate her all the more. Dinah swears that she’ll never accept Vittiore as her sister, but she’s the least of the princess’s problems: The king’s adviser, Cheshire, seems to be plotting something; Dinah’s brother Charles, the Mad Hatter, drifts farther from reality as he spends his every waking moment crafting his amazing hats; and Dinah’s best friend and secret love, Wardley, whom she intends to marry someday, doesn’t seem to see her as anything but a friend. The more Dinah digs into the mysteries that surround her, the more sinister secrets she uncovers. Oakes’ latest heroine is spoiled, headstrong, temperamental and prone to tantrums, yet she somehow remains an incredibly sympathetic character. Perhaps it’s Dinah’s oh-so-human nature that makes her so easy to like, despite her flaws. Just as Gregory Maguire’s depiction of the Wicked Witch of the West in Wicked (1995) gave her a background that changed readers’ perspectives, so Oakes’ portrait of the villain-to-be turns her into a real and even likable person while clearly foreshadowing her future as Alice’s Queen of Hearts.

A wonderfully entertaining twist on an old classic.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-240972-0

Page Count: 222

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.


In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...


From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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