The twists along this charming road make for an enchanting journey.




An ugly princess with magical powers must save her island from invasion by the vicious Druzazzi.

In the tradition of The Princess Bride (with somewhat less whimsy) and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Smith’s debut is a fairy tale in a new world. Olive is princess of Rosemount and one of a race of women known as the Winnowwood, who have a magical connection to the natural world and the ability to shape-shift into animal forms. However, each time she uses her powers, a Winnowwood gets progressively uglier. If she cuts off the extra joint, or crux, on her left pinkie that holds her magic, she becomes beautiful—but loses her powers. Olive’s sister Rosaline happily sacrifices her crux for beauty and looks forward to marriage to the handsome but shady Prince Victore, leaving Olive as the last Winnowwood with a crux. Olive has vowed never to cut it off, despite her father’s hatred; even when she saved their island from a Druzazzi invasion, her father was more embarrassed that his fellow kings saw her ugliness than thankful that she and her animal friends saved them from certain death. On Olive’s 18th birthday, her father is ambushed and taken prisoner by the neighboring king of Alganoun; the ransom is for Rosaline to marry an Alganoun prince. Olive takes Rosaline’s place in hopes of rescuing her father, but on the road, she’s kidnapped by the dreaded highwayman Black Bart—himself no Adonis. Soon, it becomes clear that there are deeper conspiracies at work and that the Druzazzi are about to make another attempt on the island. Olive begins to wonder if Bart may be the man to lift the curse of the Winnowwood—by loving her despite her looks. Unfortunately, the text is in need of another round of editing—inexplicable switches in tense, clunky phrasing and a need for some better-placed punctuation—and certain scenes, such as Olive in cat form spying on Bart with a mouse sitting on her head to guide her, need more attention to detail. Yet the theme of the power of natural magic versus that of human beauty is treated seriously without getting didactic, and most of the characters, including Olive, are intriguingly flawed. In the end, most readers will look forward to the sequel promised in the epilogue.

The twists along this charming road make for an enchanting journey.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2013

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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