WITCH WEEK

This latest entry in Jones' Chrestomanci series posits the surfacing of young witches in the closed, confined world of a traditional (though co-ed) boarding school, in a time after witchcraft has been stamped out but inquisitors are still afoot. A witch's gifts commonly show themselves around age eleven, which is just what happens here—to the terror and discomfort of Charles, who holds his finger to the candle flame to remind himself that "burning hurts"; the temporary joy of fat pariah Nan, who's delighted with her change in status; and the likely enjoyment of readers treated to the boarding-school intrigues and spellbound indiscretions. With the coming out of Nan and Charles, relationships shift, all hell breaks loose, more witches (one of them a teacher) reveal themselves, and when things get too hot the arch-enchanter Chrestomanci shows up, summoned by spell from a parallel world. This dapper gentleman settles in at the school, posing as divisional inquisitor and occasioning more shakeups, some of them quite unwelcome to the witches. There is also much exposition about the many parallel worlds of the series: The one in the story, where witchcraft is common but illegal, seems to be a redundant twin of another (ours?) . . . to which it is joined in the explosive classroom finale. And so the whole business is negated in a pouf of Guy Fawkes smoke—but it's larkish fun while the sparks fly.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 1982

ISBN: 0060298790

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1982

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

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 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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