Young fantasy fans will likely enjoy this richly imagined tale and will eagerly await its next installment.

Barton’s explosive middle-grade fantasy debut tells about an orphan’s quest to save her magical best friend.

This epic fantasy, the first in a planned series, opens with the young Fiona asking a magical pond called Moonshadow how she can save her imprisoned best friend, a fairy named Jaydin. The pond responds that Fiona must offer her own life for Jaydin’s: “Pay in kind or the winds will still.” Jaydin has been accused of casting a Carpacem spell upon the king’s son, rendering the young boy nearly catatonic, yet totally awake. It’s the worst spell a magic user can inflict on someone, and the king doesn’t take it lightly—he imprisons Jaydin and threatens to execute him. With time running out, Fiona travels to the castle on her trusty talking horse, Manzy, and on the way picks up three princesses: Rhiannon, the bossy oldest; Isabel, the whiny middle child; and adorable Cricket, the youngest, who has a way of growling at her enemies and finding trouble. Manzy convinces the princesses to help save Jaydin by talking to their father, the king. As the adventure progresses, the group travels through dank tunnels beneath the castle, is locked in a dungeon and escapes into dangerous woods. Fiona’s penchant for explosives and magical spells adds to the fun. Teenage readers will no doubt relate to fiery Fiona and her need to stand up for what’s right, assert her independence and be true to her friends. Barton’s prose is clear and easy to read; it paints a fantastical, well-drawn picture of her fictional world, yet offers realistic, relatable characters throughout.

Young fantasy fans will likely enjoy this richly imagined tale and will eagerly await its next installment.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615696959

Page Count: 206

Publisher: Flickerfawn

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2013


From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


From the Who's in Your Book? series

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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