Uneven in value the new tweaks may be, but they do add luster to a tale that well merits a new generation of readers.

READ REVIEW

THE GENTLE FALCON

Recipient of a starred Kirkus review in 1957, this fictionalized twin portrait of teenage Richard II and his child bride, Isabelle of Valois, still shines—more so for at least some of the historical matter added to this digital edition.

In the course of an extended, high-friction romance with a noble younger son who throws in his lot with the usurping future King Henry IV, lady-in-waiting Isabella Clinton witnesses or reports on tumultuous events both in England and at the French royal court during and after Richard’s truncated reign. Some “enhancements” don’t enhance much, among them (dispensable) family trees and a background essay drawn from Wikipedia, plus distracting bolded words in the narrative (“I must be schooled in the courtesies of my breeding”) linked to a glossary. But several dozen inserted, mostly color, illustrations ranging from old prints and manuscript illuminations to modern photos of artifacts do extend the original edition’s rough line drawings to offer evocative (if not always exactly period) glimpses of the era’s figures, fashions and frivolities.

Uneven in value the new tweaks may be, but they do add luster to a tale that well merits a new generation of readers. (new list of recommended websites and videos added to the old bibliography) (Enhanced e-book/historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 4, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Crushed Lime Media

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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Those preparing to “slay the sucktastic beast known as high school” will particularly appreciate this spirited read.

MOMENTOUS EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS

From the Life of a Cactus series

In the sequel to Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (2017), Aven Green confronts her biggest challenge yet: surviving high school without arms.

Fourteen-year-old Aven has just settled into life at Stagecoach Pass with her adoptive parents when everything changes again. She’s entering high school, which means that 2,300 new kids will stare at her missing arms—and her feet, which do almost everything hands can (except, alas, air quotes). Aven resolves to be “blasé” and field her classmates’ pranks with aplomb, but a humiliating betrayal shakes her self-confidence. Even her friendships feel unsteady. Her friend Connor’s moved away and made a new friend who, like him, has Tourette’s syndrome: a girl. And is Lando, her friend Zion’s popular older brother, being sweet to Aven out of pity—or something more? Bowling keenly depicts the universal awkwardness of adolescence and the particular self-consciousness of navigating a disability. Aven’s “armless-girl problems” realistically grow thornier in this outing, touching on such tough topics as death and aging, but warm, quirky secondary characters lend support. A few preachy epiphanies notwithstanding, Aven’s honest, witty voice shines—whether out-of-reach vending-machine snacks are “taunting” her or she’s nursing heartaches. A subplot exploring Aven’s curiosity about her biological father resolves with a touching twist. Most characters, including Aven, appear white; Zion and Lando are black.

Those preparing to “slay the sucktastic beast known as high school” will particularly appreciate this spirited read. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3329-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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THE PUMPKIN BOOK

The Pumpkin Book (32 pp.; $16.95; Sept. 15; 0-8234-1465-5): From seed to vine and blossom to table, Gibbons traces the growth cycle of everyone’s favorite autumn symbol—the pumpkin. Meticulous drawings detail the transformation of tiny seeds to the colorful gourds that appear at roadside stands and stores in the fall. Directions for planting a pumpkin patch, carving a jack-o’-lantern, and drying the seeds give young gardeners the instructions they need to grow and enjoy their own golden globes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1465-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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