With help from two sparkly and spunky Elbow Fairies, this action-packed yarn deftly melds fairy-tale magic with real-life...

Storming Back to Key West

THE ENJELLA(TM) ADVENTURES

In Collen’s (Enjella Uprooted, 2012) witty, fact-based fantasy adventure, a brother and sister magically travel to the year 1835, where they weather a violent storm and help a lighthouse keeper save a ship at sea.

Once a Tooth Fairy, Enjella is now an “Elbow Fairy,” the kind of fairy children can count upon to always be “at your elbow whenever you need them.” A young girl named Abigail is Enjella’s personal charge; Elbow Fairy cohort Alicia is assigned to Bennett, Abigail’s older brother. Bennett’s belief in fairies is fading, but Enjella and Alica pop in to transport the siblings to a beach in Key West, Fla., for some sandy, tide-pool fun. A radar-versus-lighthouses debate arises, and Alicia decides that an in-person history lesson is in order. Suddenly, it’s 1835, a hurricane is brewing, and Barbara Mabrity, real-life keeper of the Key West lighthouse, is struggling to clean and refuel the lanterns in time to guide ships through the crashing waves. With the ability to shrink, grow, fly and become invisible, the fairies and their charges help Mrs. Mabrity and her children through the crisis. An adroit mix of fantasy, fact and action, this spunky fairy tale includes one particularly humorous touch: The fairies’ hair and clothing change according to their surroundings, their mood and conversation. When Alicia breaks fairy rules by wafting the children back to the 19th century, Enjella’s disapproval manifests itself in her “suddenly pulled back hair” and a police hat that appears on her head. Lighthouse keeper Mrs. Mabrity sweeps “millions of bugs” out of the big lanterns and Alicia’s hair sprouts fly swatters. Enjella ponders a problem while wearing a “Sherlock Holmes detective hat,” and with the successful outcome of their mission, Alicia sports “a full Navy uniform.” The story ends with Abigail and Bennett back in their own time, but further enjoyable adventures surely await.

With help from two sparkly and spunky Elbow Fairies, this action-packed yarn deftly melds fairy-tale magic with real-life history.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0985573225

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Streamline Brands

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2013

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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