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SASHA AND PUCK AND THE POTION OF LUCK

From the Elixer Fixers series , Vol. 1

An engaging kickoff well-stocked with vivid characters, yummy chocolates, and tantalizing hints of magic.

The daughter of an apothecary with a sideline in iffy potions tries to use both science and sleuthing to keep her father out of trouble.

Sure (fairly sure) that the luck potion her father sells to recently arrived chocolatier Letty Kozlow is bogus, young Sasha sets out to help it along—using her detective skills to determine which of three potential beaus would make the best match for the kindly but secretive shop owner. Along the way she picks up an odd, grubby, cherubic sidekick she dubs Puck and runs into several village residents ranging from mean rich girl Sisal to aptly named Granny Yenta and her (supposedly) magic rooster. This series opener being a setup episode, Nayeri makes Sasha’s snooping and clue gathering a vehicle for introducing an ensemble with some characters, notably Puck and probably Ms. Kozlow, likely more than they seem. The world beyond the otherwise unnamed Village and a larger storyline (Sasha’s mom is currently away battling the evil Order of Disorder) are merely sketched out now but are sure to come into play later on. For now, though, the focus is localized to, considering the names, clothes, and a reference to rusalkas, a vaguely Slavic setting. In keeping with the cast’s array of types, the wide-eyed, olive-skinned figures in Mak’s frequent illustrations have a Disney-esque look.

An engaging kickoff well-stocked with vivid characters, yummy chocolates, and tantalizing hints of magic. (map) (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7242-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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TUCK EVERLASTING

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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BEN FRANKLIN'S IN MY BATHROOM!

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that...

Antics both instructive and embarrassing ensue after a mysterious package left on their doorstep brings a Founding Father into the lives of two modern children.

Summoned somehow by what looks for all the world like an old-time crystal radio set, Ben Franklin turns out to be an amiable sort. He is immediately taken in hand by 7-year-old Olive for a tour of modern wonders—early versions of which many, from electrical appliances in the kitchen to the Illinois town’s public library and fire department, he justly lays claim to inventing. Meanwhile big brother Nolan, 10, tags along, frantic to return him to his own era before either their divorced mom or snoopy classmate Tommy Tuttle sees him. Fleming, author of Ben Franklin’s Almanac (2003) (and also, not uncoincidentally considering the final scene of this outing, Our Eleanor, 2005), mixes history with humor as the great man dispenses aphorisms and reminiscences through diverse misadventures, all of which end well, before vanishing at last. Following a closing, sequel-cueing kicker (see above) she then separates facts from fancies in closing notes, with print and online leads to more of the former. To go with spot illustrations of the evidently all-white cast throughout the narrative, Fearing incorporates change-of-pace sets of sequential panels for Franklin’s biographical and scientific anecdotes. Final illustrations not seen.

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that adds flavor without weight. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93406-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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