A captivating British import.

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THE SONG FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE

Francesca “Frank” Patel’s summer holiday is interrupted, first by bullies and then by a glimpse of another world.

The neighborhood goons pick on Frank with escalating meanness. But the odd, large, flat-faced boy from her school whose name (Nicholas Underbridge) hints at his unusual origins—the boy everyone claims smells and no one wants to sit with—rescues her bag from a nettle field where the bullies tossed it, then takes her to his house for refuge. Nick’s house, filled with his dad’s colorful abstract paintings, is otherwise tidy except for two things: there is a damp, rich, earthy odor there, and Frank hears extraordinary music that fills her soul and makes her long for more. Frank’s curiosity results in a frightening, nearly world-ending chain of events. Harrold gracefully tosses together hints of quantum physics, old legends, and magic-ministry–type agents. Frank’s struggle to reconcile her fear of her bullies, her growing friendship with Nick, and the truth about the maker of otherworldly music are poignantly convincing and likable. Pinfold’s atmospheric illustrations, darkly menacing and mysterious by turns, add to the contemporary folk-tale atmosphere. The only hints about Frank’s Indian heritage are her name and a minor moment when an elderly woman asks Frank’s wisecracking at-home dad if they have tuna fish “where you come from.”

A captivating British import. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68119-401-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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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Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them.

THE MADRE DE AGUAS OF CUBA

From the Unicorn Rescue Society series , Vol. 5

The Unicorn Rescue Society investigates the disappearance of a Cuban sea serpent.

In the fifth series installment, returning protagonists Uchenna and Elliot are in school, learning about water, when Professor Fauna calls them away. As the kids board the professor’s rickety single-propeller plane, they learn where exactly they are heading: Cuba. The island is in the middle of a massive drought, and Professor Fauna has reason to believe that the Madres de aguas (the Mother of Waters) has gone missing. It’s up to the society to find the sea serpent before any more damage is done to the people and wildlife of Cuba. As they set out on their mission of derring-do, they realize that once again they are up against their nemeses, the Schmoke Brothers. Via Yoenis, their Cuban American society liaison, Uchenna, Elliot, and readers learn about the political and economic hardships experienced by the people of Cuba, the island’s lack of basic goods and necessities, and Cuba’s need for real democracy (although the current role of the military is elided). This is conveyed within a quick, fast-paced read that’s ideal for kids who want a straightforward magical adventure. Uchenna is Nigerian, Elliot is white and Jewish, and Professor Fauna is Peruvian.

Series fans will enjoy revisiting familiar characters and exploring the island of Cuba with them. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3142-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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