Unnerving and uncanny—just as it should be.

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THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING

THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

A retelling breathes new life into E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Christmas classic.

Every Christmas Eve, mysterious Godfather Drosselmeier brings Marie Stahlbaum and her brother, Fritz, handmade gifts. Marie quickly discovers a human-shaped nutcracker under the Christmas tree and immediately becomes enamored. That night, she stumbles upon Drosselmeier performing a magic ritual that brings a huge, fuchsia mouse king into her home to finish a long-fought battle with her toys, led by her beloved—and now quite alive—nutcracker. Marie falls ill after she rescues him, and each day of her recovery, Drosselmeier spins a bedside tale of a princess cursed to transform into a human nutcracker and the astronomer’s son who saves her by embodying the curse himself. Each night, Marie makes a sacrifice to the terrifying mouse king, who demands payment for sparing her beloved nutcracker. A finale that inextricably weaves these two stories together leaves readers to determine for themselves the line between fantasy and reality. Andrewson makes smart choices with her adaptation, refocusing the story on passionate and empathetic Marie, who has the most personality of all the fairy tale–esque characters. Her distinctive illustration style is well matched to Hoffmann’s story, with vivid colors, wavy linework, and exaggerated facial expressions that all reinforce the trippy, unsettling plot. The majority of characters are White-presenting while there is some variety of skin color among secondary and background characters.

Unnerving and uncanny—just as it should be. (author's note) (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59643-681-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE ZOMBIE PARADE

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 2

Thirteen-year-old Jack Sullivan and his crew of monster-fighting besties are fresh off their victorious battle against the evil Blarg, but there’s no rest for the weary in the middle of a Monster Apocalypse.

First, Joe’s Pizza has become the local monster hangout. And second, the zombies seem to be disappearing. Thankfully, the white boy, his not-so-secret Latina love, June Del Toro, his African-American, science-nerd best friend, Quint, and pre-apocalypse bully–turned-ally Dirk, a large white boy who loves to garden, befriend a man-monster who might have the answers to everything. Equal parts humor, adventure, and warmth, the book offers fans of the series and new readers alike an entirely agreeable outing. Jack’s witty narration and Holgate’s pitch-perfect illustrations make for a terrific read that’s particularly well suited for middle-grade boys who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. There are plenty of foul-smelling, brain-sucking monsters and gizmos and gadgets to delight, but at its core, this is a story about friendship. Orphaned at birth and raised by a foster family he describes as jerks, Jack has always longed for a family of his own. Now that he has one, the only thing scarier than the monsters is the thought of losing them.

An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart. (Horror. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-670-01662-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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