Broad appeal for readers who love exciting adventure, character development, and an exotic setting.


Land of the Legend


Loosely based on Persian legends, this illustrated children’s book relates how two heroes save their people from a Dark Queen.

In ancient Persia, the capital city of Shiraz is bustling even more than usual because the king’s firstborn son, Prince Ardashir, is about to marry. But enchantress Nisibis, queen of the Dark Angels, wants to rule the land and wed Prince Ardashir herself. When he refuses, she lays waste to the city and casts a spell that encases its people in crystal. Many years later in the small town of Fars, two young men, Daruosh and Rostam, have to leave town after Rostam unwisely attacks the provincial governor’s brother. Rostam, “built like a boulder,” acts without thinking, while his friend Daruosh is leaner, politer, smarter. It’s Daruosh’s idea to head north through the Land of Legend; since the forest is said to be cursed, few will follow. The two friends separate at a fork in the path, where a mysterious old man tells them they have different destinies to follow: Rostam must learn to use his head and control himself, while Daruosh must learn “to wrestle with monsters.” Each friend faces challenges, goes on adventures, and receives help from magical and human companions while learning more about himself, growing, and changing. The two reunite to make a last stand that could save the Land of Legend. Ghodrati (The Patriarch’s Family: A Novel of Heartbreak, Love and Redemption, 2012) grew up in Iran hearing Persian tales from his parents and grandparents that inspired this book. The result is a pleasing mix: enchanted creatures and people, including an animate shadow, among wise men and scary villains; a coming-of-age story against rousing battles and romance; and fairy-tale motifs like animal helpers and a prophesied hero. Ghodrati’s emphasis on his heroes’ needs to learn and grow is handled with humor and good psychological insight, and even the Dark Queen gets a generous final accounting. Page’s illustrations are richly colorful, like Persian miniatures, and contribute wonderfully to the storytelling.

Broad appeal for readers who love exciting adventure, character development, and an exotic setting.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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