A touching fable that speaks to readers of all ages.

The Tale of Nottingswood

A “humdumly Sister and hohumly Brother” are unlikely heroes in Young’s debut work of middle-grade fantasy.

The siblings live in the walled town of Nottingswood, a dreary place with no color or happiness. It’s an ordered society that protects its townsfolk from emotions such as love, fear or sadness. The long-ago Guardian of the town has been banished, and the Judge has ordered the construction of a Great Wall to block out the sun. The unexpected appearance of a small, unknown creature threatens Nottingswood’s regimented existence. Only Brother and Sister refuse to leave the creature to die. They sneak it home—away from the prying eyes of the town and the Order of Voices and the Judge—and manage to care for it. Perhaps anticipating confusion, the creature comes equipped with a magic plaque that spells out its needs—“I’m hungry. Feed me.” To secure food, they must steal beyond the walls of Nottingswood, into the terrifying wide world where a mythical beast is rumored to live. They discover there is no beast but a world of beauty and color. Something happened in Nottingswood that resulted in the town’s grim existence, when “folk[s] heeded the shadows instead of the light.” Now Brother and Sister find themselves on a path of inadvertent rebellion. Young’s whimsical narrative is superb. He spins a fairy tale written almost exclusively in verse that flows beautifully throughout his short tale. It’s a joy to watch the transformation of Brother and Sister from proper citizens to enlightened dissenters. The fairy-tale elements, such as magical creatures and an enchanted cloak, will appeal to a young audience, while the underlying moral questions of good and evil, the privilege of free will and the value of taking risks will intrigue readers of all ages. Grace’s cleverly drawn illustrations vivify the adventure, and those of the evil Ms. Grouse are particularly fun. While Young’s work feels inspired by Dr. Seuss and C.S. Lewis, he creates a story that is uniquely his own.

A touching fable that speaks to readers of all ages.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0971942370

Page Count: 78

Publisher: Pond Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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