NIGHTHAWK AND LITTLE ELK

A quirky and vivid primer for parents to teach kids about environmentalism.

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In this debut graphic novel, two siblings escape their foster mother and survive in the woods on wits, magic, and love.

Brother and Sister are First Nation children who live in a tightly knit community. One cruel day, they’re abducted and placed in foster care. Their new mother is Thoxweya, a witch from a lineage descended from the original woman of that name who lured children into the woods to eat them. In their new home, Brother and Sister become servants to Thoxweya and her daughter. When the siblings decide to run away one night, the witch curses all surrounding sources of water. While traveling through the woods, Brother tries to quench his thirst at a fountain, then a brook. Sister’s closeness to nature helps her hear the warnings, and she stops him. But eventually, he drinks from a spring and transforms into an elk. Brother and Sister come to terms with their new dilemma and choose to stay strong. They build a shelter in the woods of their people’s ancestral land, surviving on berries, roots, and mushrooms. Brother wears their grandmother’s locket around his furry neck for strength, but is it enough to protect him from a nearby camp of hunters? In this charming, educational tale, Harris uses bits from the Brothers Grimm (“Brüderchen und Schwesterchen”), the actual legend of Thoxweya, and her own fiction to illustrate sustainable living choices. Vibrant photography—especially the outdoor scenes—provides backgrounds while meticulously crafted dolls act out the script. Light digital effects add personality to the figures and magic to the transformations. At the end of the story, the author emphasizes underlying themes for her younger audience with a mock-up article titled “We Need to Protect the Planet We Depend On.” Boldface phrases, such as “vote with your pocket book,” “insincere politics,” and “even if it’s inconvenient and hard,” are ones adults should discuss in detail with children. Harris’ wisdom applies to readers of all ages: “Everyone should keep a vigilant eye on the goings-on in the world outside their own small one.”

A quirky and vivid primer for parents to teach kids about environmentalism.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9959311-4-5

Page Count: 38

Publisher: TaleFeather Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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