Vanessa’s emotional roller coaster takes center stage, but there’s enough Nessie lore and presence to please the most...

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THE LOCH NESS MONSTER

From the Cryptid Files series , Vol. 1

An Irish teenager still grieving for her two-years-dead mother gets some unusual help in this decidedly unpredictable series opener.

A family vacation to Loch Ness at first delights Vanessa, who sees it as a chance to continue her mother’s cryptid research. But that delight changes to rage when it turns out that she’ll be staying at the very cottage where Lee, the woman her widowed father is seeing, grew up and is visiting. Flitcroft’s own research is clearly visible: in the historical notes that preface each chapter, in narrative discussions of theories regarding Nessie’s nature and in detailed descriptions of the Loch’s many natural beauties and distinctive local sites. A fainting spell and other odd incidents presage a dreamlike, life-changing climactic encounter between Vanessa and the fabled monster—which turns out to be far different from the prehistoric survivor common theories hold it (if it exists) to be. It also, astonishingly, serves to bring Vanessa and Lee closer together.

Vanessa’s emotional roller coaster takes center stage, but there’s enough Nessie lore and presence to please the most demanding cryptid fans. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-3481-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.

A GIRL, A RACCOON, AND THE MIDNIGHT MOON

This is the way Pearl’s world ends: not with a bang but with a scream.

Pearl Moran was born in the Lancaster Avenue branch library and considers it more her home than the apartment she shares with her mother, the circulation librarian. When the head of the library’s beloved statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is found to be missing, Pearl’s scream brings the entire neighborhood running. Thus ensues an enchanting plunge into the underbelly of a failing library and a city brimful of secrets. With the help of friends old, uncertainly developing, and new, Pearl must spin story after compelling story in hopes of saving what she loves most. Indeed, that love—of libraries, of books, and most of all of stories—suffuses the entire narrative. Literary references are peppered throughout (clarified with somewhat superfluous footnotes) in addition to a variety of tangential sidebars (the identity of whose writer becomes delightfully clear later on). Pearl is an odd but genuine narrator, possessed of a complex and emotional inner voice warring with a stridently stubborn outer one. An array of endearing supporting characters, coupled with a plot both grounded in stressful reality and uplifted by urban fantasy, lend the story its charm. Both the neighborhood and the library staff are robustly diverse. Pearl herself is biracial; her “long-gone father” was black and her mother is white. Bagley’s spot illustrations both reinforce this and add gentle humor.

The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.   (reading list) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6952-1

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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A sensitive, moving debut.

THE UNICORN IN THE BARN

When 11-year-old Eric Harper begins caring for an injured unicorn, his life is changed by the choices he makes, the relationships he forms, and the secrets he uncovers.

Eric lives with his family on land that has belonged to Harpers for generations and shares a special bond with his grandmother. One day, Eric spies what he thinks is a white deer but quickly realizes is a white unicorn. Filled with the “most amazing feeling of comfort and happiness and excitement,” Eric follows the lame unicorn to the farmhouse his ailing grandmother recently sold to Dr. Brancusi, a veterinarian, and her daughter, Allegra. (All three characters appear to be white.) Dr. Brancusi senses Eric’s concern and asks him to help her treat the unicorn. Discovering the unicorn is pregnant with twins, Dr. Brancusi warns Eric they must keep her hidden until the babies are born and hires him to assist. Eric’s affinity to the unicorn deepens, and when she’s threatened and runs away, he frantically searches. In the end, although Eric experiences loss, he gains a special family connection. Despite the presence of supernatural creatures, Eric’s quiet, genuine, first-person voice tells a realistic story of family love and discovering one’s true self, the presence of the unicorn and other magical creatures adding just a touch of whimsy to a story about very real emotions, revealed in Green’s black-and-white illustrations.

A sensitive, moving debut. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-76112-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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