Clever, humorous sequel with a “take-charge, kick-butt” heroine.


From the Magnificent Tales of Misadventure series , Vol. 2

In this sequel to Blue in the Face (2016), 12-year-old, white Elspeth returns to the parallel world of New Winkieland.

After ousting despotic King Krool and restoring Wee Willie Winkie to New Winkieland’s throne, Elspeth finds life in the real world with her adoptive parents “drab and predictable.” When Georgie Porgie unexpectedly emerges through the portal in her bedroom, begging her to return to New Winkieland, Elspeth can’t resist. Back where nursery-rhyme characters are real, Elspeth learns Mary Mary Quite Contrary’s holding Queen Farrah captive in the treacherous Thick and demanding a huge ransom the king cannot pay. Elspeth reluctantly makes a deal with imprisoned Krool, who promises the ransom money in exchange for a pardon. Can Krool be trusted? Will Elspeth and her nursery-rhyme cohorts survive the Thick and find Farrah in time? Must Elspeth choose between her adoptive parents and her biological parents, Jack and Jill? Beneath the veneer of preciosity, a smart story can be found. A rambunctious cast of irreverent nursery-rhyme characters who don’t quite fit their traditional roles, a liberal dose of twisted rewritten nursery rhymes, and lively cartoon art add witty dimension to Elspeth’s harrowing second adventure as she straddles two worlds.

Clever, humorous sequel with a “take-charge, kick-butt” heroine. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61963-490-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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