A fun and fast-moving adventure giddy with ideas.

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This debut middle-grade fantasy sees a neglected orphan returning to the magical kingdom of her birth to face a rising evil.

Thirteen-year-old Caley Cross is the oldest child at the Gunch Home for Wayward Waifs, where she is worked like a slave and kept starved and impoverished. Caley gets on with her life as best she can, but if ever her anger is roused, she dies. Her deaths are only temporary—she revives shortly afterward—but they are linked to an innate power that causes dead animals to come alive. One day, Caley’s resurrections bring her to the attention of a metal-winged crow, whereupon she is rescued from the orphanage and taken to Erinath, a realm beyond Earth. Caley, it transpires, is the lost daughter of Queen Catherine, who disappeared shortly after the girl was born and is thought to have been killed by the nefarious Olpheist. Returned to Castle Erinath (which grows like a tree and often shifts its rooms about), Caley must adjust to her royal status—and to the relentless enmity of Ithica Blight, the vain and petty princess she’s supplanted as next in line to the throne. Ithica’s cruelties aside, there is trouble brewing in the kingdom. Castle Erinath is sickening and Olpheist is rumored to have broken free of his prison. Can Caley and her new friends sort truth from lies and keep him from laying hands on the Hadeon Drop, the ultimate source of creation and destruction? In this wildly imaginative series opener, Rosen’s storytelling overflows with creative fancy, so much so that the strong Harry Potter resonances (cruelly treated chosen one, boarding school social dynamic, Quidditch-like Equidium teams) become an unfortunate distraction from the boundless parade of whimsical characters and fantastical new material. Caley’s adventure begins in a breathless rush before settling down and building steadily to a somewhat abrupt end (and the promise of a sequel). The author’s prose is easy to read, with clear descriptions, age-appropriate dialogue, and plenty of humor. While Ithica is over-the-top and Caley and Olpheist are little distinguished from default heroes and villains, all the other characters ooze originality. All told, young readers will thrill at the sparkle of enchantment.

A fun and fast-moving adventure giddy with ideas.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68463-053-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020


A quick skim of the subject—readable, but unsystematic and not well served by either the art or the dusty closing...

Countering the notion that our language just sprang into existence from nowhere, a respected storyteller offers quick notes on the Classical backgrounds behind several dozen words or expressions in common use.

Arranging her 17 main choices alphabetically from “Achilles Heel” to “Victory,” Lunge-Larsen supplies for each a use-quote, retells or paraphrases a Greek or Roman myth that explains the term’s usage then closes with quick references to several related gods or other figures whose names are still embedded in English. While “Pandora’s Box” and some other entries feature fully developed tales, others do not. The story of Achilles (whose role and death in the Trojan War are encompassed in one sentence about how, after the “Battle of Troy [sic] broke out … one fateful arrow pierced his heel”) and others are sketchy at best. Adding occasional dialogue balloons graphic-novelist, Hinds presents expertly drawn but similarly sketchy watercolor scenes of fully-clothed or discreetly posed mortals and immortals on nearly every page. While pulling modern use-quotes from current literature for kids has the potential to spice up the presentation, some works are relatively obscure (River Boy, by Tim Bowler) or above the natural audience for this text (The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney).

A quick skim of the subject—readable, but unsystematic and not well served by either the art or the dusty closing bibliography. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-15229-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 23, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011



Legibility issue aside, required reading for flights that will be as safe as they are exhilarating.

A savvy instruction manual for new magic-carpet owners.

Packaged with “Mosby’s Model D3 Extra-Small Magic Carpet, Especially for Young or Vertically Challenged People” (actual carpet not included, alas), this handy guide gathers a wealth of necessary advice and information. This includes commands programmed in by the manufacturer’s “magicalists,” notes on proper care and storage, best practices for safe flying, aerial hazards, suggested recreational activities, basic survival techniques, and even career possibilities. There’s so much here, in fact, that the pages are stuffed nearly edge to edge with text in a cramped, fussy typeface. Blocks of text are wedged in around cartoon illustrations of buildings and natural features seen from above, views of a racially diverse cast of young carpet riders, and (this particular copy being actually a hand-me-down from an elderly great-aunt) handwritten additions in red ink, e.g.: “Barf stains on a carpet can be exceedingly difficult to clean.” In and around the fun are tidbits of actual information, such as the varying G-forces experienced by a child swinging, sneezing, and riding a roller coaster, the varying altitudes of flyers from bugs and bats to commercial jets, samplings from world cuisines, and orienteering. Despite cultural associations, Mossby’s wares are fairly untrammeled by Middle Eastern stereotypes.

Legibility issue aside, required reading for flights that will be as safe as they are exhilarating. (Informational fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-28-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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