THE SHADOWS

THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, VOLUME 1

Preoccupied parents, a solitary young girl, talking cats—sound familiar? Unfortunately for debut author West, not only has this been done before, it’s been done better. Still, the premise is intriguing. Magical spectacles enable the wearer to enter the worlds captured in paintings created by an evil, long-dead wizard. “Captured” isn’t just a figure of speech: At least one young boy has been turned into a painted replica of himself. Another painting, that of the wizard’s (also dead) granddaughter, comes creepily to life. In general, though, the action is sluggish and the ominous atmosphere contrived. Characterization is skimpy at best. Olive’s parents adore math. Olive doesn’t. The cats are pompous, imaginative and martial, respectively. Ironically enough, it’s not just the supernatural effects that fail to convince. Would parents, even those utterly obsessed with their own intelligence and interests, really leave their 11-year-old home alone overnight? The fact that they do precipitates Olive’s final confrontation with the wicked wizard. Unfortunately readers probably won’t care much about who wins nor about the possibility of volume two. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3440-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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Fans of mythology-based fantasies will devour this adventure and anxiously await the next installment.

THE LAST SHADOW WARRIOR

Abby is your average 12-year-old North Carolinian—and Viking.

She has been eager for years to follow in her mother's footsteps as an Aesir, or Viking warrior charged with protecting the world from Grendels, descendants of the same monster faced down by Beowulf. Still reeling from her mother’s death four years ago, Abby is worried because she hasn’t developed the unusual abilities needed by Aesirs. After she is attacked at home, she and her father head to Vale Hall, an elite Minnesota private school her mother also attended. Along the way they are attacked again, and her father falls into a mysterious coma. Abby is positive a Grendel is after her, but the Viking council at Vale Hall doesn't believe her. She quickly befriends Grimsby and Gwynn, each with their own burdens and secrets. Together they try to find a cure for her father, in the process uncovering secrets from her mother's past and discovering some truths hiding at Vale Hall. This entertaining debut novel seamlessly blends Norse mythology with a modern-day setting to tell an action-packed and humorous story. In addition, the book explores grief, growing up, and starting over with sensitivity and insight. Abby and most other characters are cued as White; Gwynn is described as Asian American.

Fans of mythology-based fantasies will devour this adventure and anxiously await the next installment. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-63607-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A colorful cast in which even the ferocious Silversides comes in for a dash or two of sympathy, plus a plot replete with, of...

RAGWEED

A TALE FROM DIMWOOD FOREST

From the Poppy series , Vol. 1

Avi elaborates on the “city mouse, country mouse” theme in this rousing prequel to Poppy (1995), starring Poppy’s ill-fated beau.

Impelled by wanderlust to hop a train to who-knows-where, Ragweed ends up in the rundown part of Amperville, where the local mice (all named after car parts) are being terrorized by Felines Enraged About Rodents (F.E.A.R.), a two-cat extermination squad led by evil-tempered Silversides. After several brushes with death, Ragweed defiantly teams up with Clutch, green-furred lead guitarist for the B-Flat Tires, to open a dance club for mice only, then in the climax organizes a devastating counterattack that sends F.E.A.R. scurrying out of town. In the end, though, Ragweed opts for the country life (little knowing that it’s going to be sweet but short).

A colorful cast in which even the ferocious Silversides comes in for a dash or two of sympathy, plus a plot replete with, of course, narrow squeaks will keep readers turning the pages, while Floca’s scenes of tiny mice fleeing looming, toothy predators add more than a touch of drama .(Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-380-97690-0

Page Count: 178

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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