A delightful magical romp.

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THE WIZARDS OF ONCE

From the Wizards of Once series , Vol. 1

A King Enchanter’s 13-year-old son and a Warrior Princess wind up together on a humorous journey of self-discovery.

Set in a realm where wizards and warriors are at war with one another, this novel is a rollicking adventure tale and coming-of-age story rolled into one enjoyable package. Though from two different worlds, Prince Xar and Princess Wish are united by their mutual misfit status within their respective communities. For Xar, the fact that he cannot perform magic makes him the target of ridicule from his cruel brother and a disappointment to his powerful father, while Wish’s inability to conform to the codes of her warrior clan renders her a friendless oddity. A chance meeting in the woods separating their kingdoms brings the teens together on a journey that teaches them the importance of learning to think for themselves. Cowell’s latest work offers a fully realized fantasy world abounding with witches, sprites, killer plants, and talking ravens. Her scrappy teenage protagonists are wonderfully flawed and almost scarily realistic in their bravery, selfishness, and desire to please their parents yet not surrender their individuality. The omniscient narrator’s voice is pitch-perfect, sounding appropriately young without ever talking down to the target audience. Readers will fall in love with the imaginative worldbuilding and humorous dialogue and asides. Cowell’s scratchy, smudgy drawings, many full-page, liberally illustrate the text, depicting both Xar and Wish with pale skin.

A delightful magical romp. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-50833-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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