A strong series opener for sensitive readers.

MAGGIE AND THE FLYING HORSE

From the Magic Animal Rescue series , Vol. 1

A lonely, misunderstood girl who pays enough attention to notice magical creatures must help a tiny, winged horse.

While Maggie’s father chops wood across the forest, she’s left with her wicked stepmother, Zelia, and stepsiblings, including awful Peter. Her steps, new to the Enchanted Forest, don’t believe Maggie when she tells them about the magical creatures and accuse her of lying to cover up laziness. Zelia threatens to give Maggie’s bed to Peter unless Maggie stops with the stories and sticks to chores, then sends Maggie to help Peter tend his sheep. But Maggie falls asleep on the job, and Peter ditches her, leaving her to awaken to goblins! When a tiny flying horse tickles her while she’s hiding, Maggie brushes it away—but accidentally damages its delicate wing. Maggie takes it to Bob the Stableman, a person her grandmother had told her helped magical creatures, but only after cleverly evading a dangerous troll. Bob’s a kindred soul and supportive adult—a good thing since Maggie’s decision to do right by the horse instead of doing chores gives Zelia an excuse to make good on threats. Kids will relate to the injustice and to not feeling heard. The simultaneously publishing sequel, Maggie and the Wish Fish, continues the familial storyline through an encounter with an allegedly wish-granting fish rather than resetting to status quo. All illustrated human characters appear to be white.

A strong series opener for sensitive readers. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68119-312-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

THE MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER

Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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