A dreamy, magical adventure harking back to the stories of an earlier era.


A young girl and her pixielike friends find danger and idyll in this sequel.

Suzy, nearly 13 years old, lives with her Nan and Grandad in Capel-le Ferne, a village perched atop the White Cliffs of Dover. Suzy is friends with the Paxteys, winged fairylike beings who inhabit a nearby cliffside warren and take care of the natural world. Sometimes Paxteys and humans can form a special bond—a symbiosis of sorts—and can hear one another’s thoughts. This has happened with Suzy and the Paxtey Scratch, her special friend, who is still recovering from the tribulations of Ralph’s previous volume, Voices in the Mist (2013). In that story, the loathsome Ogystone captured lots of Paxteys and held them prisoner. Thanks to Suzy and Scratch, those Paxteys were rescued. Ogystone was thought to have “puffed out” (died), but he is back. He has taken over the body of an osprey, mutating it beyond recognition and corrupting several nests of young ospreys to act as his henchmen. Ogystone’s one driving thought is to take vengeance on the Paxteys. Can Suzy, Scratch, and the others defeat him again? This middle-grade book is very much a continuation, and though the author writes with new readers in mind, there are still some elements (Little House, for instance) that pass wholly without account, leading to a measure of disorientation. Suzy is a throwback character, evoking the bygone days of early- to mid-20th-century children’s fiction, including tales by E. Nesbit and Enid Blyton. Suzy is innocent and loving and rather saccharine in her interactions. She is often overcome with emotion. While her lack of foibles may not be to everyone’s taste, one consequence of her sweet disposition is that the story takes on even more of a wistful, halcyon feel. The Paxteys are delightful creatures. Ogystone is the very essence of a frightful villain. The dialogue is slightly stylized—again, evincing the formality of yesteryear. The plot, though simple in both execution and resolution, moves along nicely and will keep young readers beguiled. The book contains a handful of black-and-white pencil drawings by Macklin that sufficiently depict the main Paxtey characters.

A dreamy, magical adventure harking back to the stories of an earlier era.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-72839-211-0

Page Count: 170

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Dizzyingly silly.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action.


The best birthday present is a magical train full of talking animals—and a new job.

On Kate’s 11th birthday, she’s surprised by the arrival of rich Uncle Herbert. Uncle Herbert bears a gift: a train. Not a toy train, a 102.36-ton steam engine, with cars that come later. When Kate and her brother, Tom, both white, play in the cab of the Silver Arrow, the train starts up, zooming to a platform packed with animals holding tickets. Thus begins Kate and Tom’s hard work: They learn to conduct the train and feed the fire box, instructed by the Silver Arrow, which speaks via printed paper tape. The Silver Arrow is a glorious playground: The library car is chockablock with books while the candy car is brimful of gobstoppers and gummy bears. But amid the excitement of whistle-blowing and train conducting, Kate and Tom learn quiet messages from their animal friends. Some species, like gray squirrels and starlings, are “invaders.” The too-thin polar bear’s train platform has melted, leaving it almost drowned. Their new calling is more than just feeding the coal box—they need to find a new balance in a damaged world. “Feeling guilty doesn’t help anything,” the mamba tells them. Humans have survived so effectively they’ve taken over the world; now, he says, “you just have to take care of it.” (Illustrations not seen.)

Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53953-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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