An ambitious story that suffers from a lack of clarity.

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THE FLOURISHING OF FLORALIE LAUREL

Sometimes family is the friends you make and sometimes the friends you make turn out to be family.

In 1927 England, 11-year-old Floralie Alice Laurel and her older brother, Tom, survive by selling flowers—Floralie from a basket on the street and Tom from his shop. They also get help from their grandmother. However, Grandmama’s help comes with strings attached. Grandmama owns an orphanage, and she is convinced that Floralie would be better off there and less likely to succumb to the mental illness experienced by their artist mother. In an effort to escape Grandmama’s clutches and find her mother, Floralie accepts the help of a quiet boy living in the attic over the flower shop and the local librarian, who is blind. They escape with her to France to find someone who can decipher the flowers she found hidden in the wall of the attic. This confusing series of events relies heavily on coincidence and is delivered in language that is often as flowery as Floralie’s sales job. Interesting flashbacks are woven well into the story, and the quirky relationship Floralie has with the world is intriguing. Mental illness plays a confusing role in the story, presented as an affliction that Floralie’s mother suffers from but with no clear explanation or exploration of it. A few black-and-white sketches illustrate the cast of white characters.

An ambitious story that suffers from a lack of clarity. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0668-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Yellow Jacket

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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