A professional storyteller, Lupton retells seven stories in his repertoire from Chile, Greenland, India, Nigeria, North America, Russia and Scotland. The attractive page composition has spaciously placed text that rings with a storyteller's voice, while the digital collages use decorative borders to reflect ethnic characteristics. The flat dimension of the people and animals are offset by the richness of patterns, and spot art generates momentum to lead readers to each story's end. Only one tale is broadly familiar, "The Strange Visitor," from Scotland ("Once upon a time, in a dark wood, there was a dark house"). In a Seneca tale, a grouchy Winter bullies children, stealing their clothing for warmth, until tricky old Summer scotches his antics. From India comes the tale of a brave blackbird who takes on the King, when his servants trap the blackbird's wife to provide music in his palace. In these and the rest, the essence of the stories lives up to the title. Storytellers will welcome this collection, with sources provided and personal provenance to back them up, and the title will attract kids. (includes CD) (Folklore. 8 & up)


Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-258-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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Rushed pacing and ineffective character development keep the story from living up to its potential.


A young boy gets lost and then kidnapped on a school trip to Jamaica’s Cockpit Country.

High schooler Kemar McBayne is looking forward to the school’s Ecology Club trip, along with his older brother, Oshane, and his younger brother, Tyrik, who’s only 10. His contentious relationship with his little brother causes trouble when an act of mischief on Tyrik’s part almost immediately leads to Kemar’s separation from the group. Unable to make his way back to them, he is later found and befriended by a stranger who turns out to have ulterior motives and holds Kemar hostage in the notoriously difficult-to-navigate Cockpit Country. Kemar decides to try to figure out a way to escape his captor and return to his family. At the same time, Oshane is determined to find his brother despite the others’ support, eventually enlisting the help of one of the region’s Maroon communities in order to track him down. Elm includes interesting, detailed aspects of Jamaican geography and culture that help readers visualize the characters’ experiences. However, this aspect of the novel is not enough to make up for jumpy pacing and storytelling that fails to build suspense or create attachment to the characters or plot. Characters are mostly Black, with some secondary characters mentioned as having pale skin and foreign accents.

Rushed pacing and ineffective character development keep the story from living up to its potential. (Adventure. 8-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-976-8267-31-3

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Blouse & Skirt Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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An apparent tribute to Victorian-era antiquarianism and all the gaping research holes therein.


David compiles a curio collection of surface-level research into the various historical practices feeding current New Age magick.

Introduced as a mysteriously found “scrapbook,” dated 1925, of one Conrad Gessner, the book maintains its sense of authenticity with bland Eurocentrism. Beginning with “A Brief History of Magick,” David (as Gessner) provides a first-person narration of magick practices through a typical Western timeline: ancient Egypt, classical-era Greece and Rome, and “Modern,” with a single spread dedicated to both the entire African continent (exclusive of Egypt) and the Middle East. Following this (brief indeed!) history, each spread provides an overview into a single form of magick, including divination, alchemy, potion-making, and more. Notably absent is any explicit mention of Christianity (a fairly major contemporaneous counterpoint), any explanation of the relationship between star signs and the stars, and the entire continents of North and South America, bar a single sentence mentioning Machu Picchu and one throwaway mention of vague “First Nations peoples’ ” associations with the moon. Also, nowhere in the text is an explanation of the difference between occult “magick”—with a K—and stage “magic”—without. It’s pleasantly and thoroughly illustrated in pencil and watercolor, with diverse humans and nods to the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck. Still, despite the cloth binding and ribbon marker, readers will find more amusement in Candlewick’s venerable ’Ology series.

An apparent tribute to Victorian-era antiquarianism and all the gaping research holes therein. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7112-6207-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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