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

Tom Thorneval

DREAM MERCHANT EXTRAORDINAIRE

From the Addison's Tales series

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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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

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

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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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