An imaginative work featuring intriguingly weird art that lives up the creator’s desire for “wonder and whimsy.”

THE IMPOSSIBLE WINTERBOURNE PRESENTS...THE ALPHABOTS

A debut, sepia-toned alphabet book from steampunk street artist The Impossible Winterbourne, designed to please both adults and young readers.

This book takes a surreal tone from the start, as the author welcomes readers to Winterbourne Workshop—which is also the name of his real-world art shop. An alphabet follows, featuring strange and frequently wonderful robots. On each two-page spread, a letter, printed in an old-fashioned typewriter typeface, is framed and placed against a muted, tapestrylike background. Below it is a description of a robot whose name begins with the same letter, illustrated in mixed-media on the facing page. Some of the best examples include the AquaBot, an underwater automaton who wears an old-fashioned diving helmet; the EcoBot, who’s made from sticks and has a tree growing from its head; and the IdeaBot, whose head is an old-fashioned lightbulb. Each one’s design has a steampunk flair, but some are eerier than others and might be off-putting to sensitive young readers; the GhostBot, for example, has rusted chains and a sad expression, and the ZombiBot is suitably grotesque with frayed wires and an exposed brain. The poetry scans well throughout, and the rhymes create a nice read-aloud cadence. VoodooBot, however, is an unfortunate misstep that reinforces negative stereotypes of that religion. For the most part, though, this is an inventive book that’s similar in tone and content to Neil Gaiman’s The Dangerous Alphabet or Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies.

An imaginative work featuring intriguingly weird art that lives up the creator’s desire for “wonder and whimsy.”

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-74378-2

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

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HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE

Sophie is caught between a powerful witch and wizard who are terrorizing the magical land of Ingary. Living a humdrum life as a hatter till the malicious Witch of the Waste casts a spell turning her into an old woman, Sophie seeks refuge as cleaning woman to Wizard Howl (although he's rumored to eat the hearts of young girls) in his castle, which moves at will about the countryside. Actually, Howl is a brash young man whose only vice is womanizing. He is a gifted wizard but the despair of his inept apprentice and of Calcifer, a humorously petulant fire demon, because of such human faults as messiness and spending too long in the bath. As in her memorable Archer's Goon, Jones has a plethora of characters who are seldom what they seem and an intricate plot which may dazzle with its complexity or delight by the hilarious common-sense consequences of its preposterous premises. Sophie is a dauntless heroine; when she regains her youth and wins Howl, the odds are this is only the beginning of a tempestuous romance. Great fun.

Pub Date: April 14, 1986

ISBN: 0061478784

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1986

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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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