DILLWEED'S REVENGE

A DEADLY DOSE OF MAGIC

Well-deserved woe unto adults who do Dillweed wrong! His parents are off voyaging, and he’s poetically jealous: “Dillweed liked to go places. He liked to have adventures. He liked to have a good time. His parents went places. His parents had adventures. His parents had a good time. The parents. Not Dillweed.” Using ink and gouache, Ellis paints the minimalist gothic mansion in low-intensity rust, brown and gray; adorable pet reptile Skorped is a refreshing pale blue. Garishly distorted bodies and faces reveal the odiousness in nasty servants Umblud and Perfidia and their guests. Heide and her family’s text is elegantly understated: “Dillweed did something”—the illustrations show that Dillweed conjures gray ghouls; “Umblud made a foolish mistake”—Umblud drinks lethal poison that Perfidia meant for Skorped; “Perfidia made a foolish mistake”—Perfidia gets crushed under a wardrobe by a gray ghoul. Even subtler is Dillweed’s revenge against Skorped’s next attackers. Dillweed and Skorped “wished the parents would go away," and lickety-split, a black wreath adorns the manor’s door while boy and pet depart for their long-denied adventures. Good, macabre fun. (Picture book. 9 & up)

 

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-15-206394-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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