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Tom Thorneval

DREAM MERCHANT EXTRAORDINAIRE

From the Addison's Tales series

A charming introduction to a world of fairy creatures, featuring a good-hearted narrator who grows into a better person.

In this fairy tale for middle-grade readers, a misfit dream maker goes on a quest for riches and finds himself on a completely different path toward self-worth.

Wingless half fairy Tom Thorneval has fallen in love with a fairy named Mary, and dreams of a future in which the two of them could start a new tribe of fairies, away from those who might judge Tom for being half shape-changer. To create a new future, he decides to sell his dreams at the Grand Goblin Fair and bring home gold and jewels. But the fair is difficult to find, and Tom meets no end of difficulties along the way. First, imps destroy most of the dreams he made to sell; then, he encounters a troll, a riddling dwarf, a male half witch/half fairy named Bill, and a number of other crazy forest dwellers. At one point, readers have the option to choose Tom’s path: left or right. (As in the Choose Your Own Adventure books, readers then skip ahead to the appropriate page as prompted, but the reader soon ends up in exactly the same spot either way, so it feels like a misplaced feature.) Tom has a strange interaction with either a satyr or a crafty frog and his minions, depending on the path. He then decides that in order to make money, he must change his recipes and start making nightmares. When the local fairy glen decides that this is unbecoming behavior for a dream maker, they force him to stop and set him on a path farther away from the fair but toward becoming a better person (and a Dreammaster). Tom is a down-to-earth narrator, and his dream making is as clever as Roald Dahl’s in The BFG (1982). His adventures are also reminiscent of traveling through Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland, and the driving later subplot of the book, in which a rival dream maker tries to eliminate his competition by stealing from Tom and setting him in harm’s way, ends well. Although the book is the first in a planned series, the story feels complete and self-contained. It also includes QR codes to play the music included in the book, which is a nice touch for readers with the proper technology.

A charming introduction to a world of fairy creatures, featuring a good-hearted narrator who grows into a better person.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-910032-13-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Wivern Digital Limited

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2015

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THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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