An accessible and fast-paced magical adventure.

UNICORN ISLAND

Help is needed, but is it safe to reveal the secrets of Unicorn Island?

Twelve-year-old Samantha Wells is excited for a regular life after being settled in New York City for a year. But when her mom takes a two-month job as a flautist in Europe and sends Sam off to live with her Uncle Mitch, whom she hasn’t seen in a decade, she shatters Sam’s dreams of stability. Sam travels to South Carolina only to be met by a surprised Uncle Mitch who was not expecting her. Foggy Harbor is a seaside town marked by a nightly mist so heavy it seems magical, and its main street charm includes Dr. Thompson’s veterinary office. The vet’s son, Tuck, becomes fast friends with Sam, and together they discover a secret island hidden in the ocean fog populated by unicorns and a frost-breathing wyvern. When one of the unicorns falls ill, Sam and Tuck know Dr. Thompson can help—but telling her would mean breaching the secret of the unicorns. Sam feels genuine as she deals with the emotional trauma of her mom’s departure and her uncle’s initially cool reception with maturity, and readers will connect with Sam and Tuck’s desire to solve this supernatural mystery. Color illustrations add a dreamy, fairy-tale–like quality while aftermatter expands on different elements of the text. Sam and her family are White; Tuck and his mother are Black.

An accessible and fast-paced magical adventure. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5248-6470-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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

TUCK EVERLASTING

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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This kid-friendly satire ably sets claws into a certain real-life franchise.

BAD KITTY GOES ON VACATION

From the Bad Kitty (chapter book) series

A trip to the Love Love Angel Kitty World theme park (“The Most Super Incredibly Happy Place on Earth!”) turns out to be an exercise in lowered expectations…to say the least.

When Uncle Murray wins a pair of free passes it seems at first like a dream come true—at least for Kitty, whose collection of Love Love Kitty merch ranges from branded underwear to a pink chainsaw. But the whole trip turns into a series of crises beginning with the (as it turns out) insuperable challenge of getting a cat onto an airplane, followed by the twin discoveries that the hotel room doesn’t come with a litter box and that the park doesn’t allow cats. Even kindhearted Uncle Murray finds his patience, not to say sanity, tested by extreme sticker shock in the park’s gift shop and repeated exposures to Kitty World’s literally nauseating theme song (notation included). He is not happy. Fortunately, the whole cloying enterprise being a fiendish plot to make people so sick of cats that they’ll pick poultry as favorite pets instead, the revelation of Kitty’s feline identity puts the all-chicken staff to flight and leaves the financial coffers plucked. Uncle Murray’s White, dumpy, middle-aged figure is virtually the only human one among an otherwise all-animal cast in Bruel’s big, rapidly sequenced, and properly comical cartoon panels.

This kid-friendly satire ably sets claws into a certain real-life franchise. (Graphic satire. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20808-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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