A quirky tale of tails with an endearing narrator whom young girls would love to befriend.



In this middle-grade fable, an intelligent and empathetic preteen is enlisted to help a mermaid fix her “wrong tail.”

Twelve-year-old Samantha Ford knows she’s lucky to live a privileged life in Manhattan with her war hero–turned-lawyer father and her beautiful, glamorous mother—even if her mother often discourages her from certain things because, according to her, “Nothing will come of it.” Sam was born with club feet, but she has made the most of her condition thanks to her beloved nurse, Nana. Now, it’s the family’s first summer vacation on Nantucket since Sam’s mother forced Nana to retire, and Sam decides to take surfing lessons. However, the instructor sends Sam out to sea, all the way to Bermuda, where she washes up in a cove with a mermaid named Lori. Lori was born with a “wrong tail,” one that resembles that of a swordfish more than a dolphin, and she needs Sam’s help to cast a spell that will change it into a normal tail; otherwise, she’ll be ostracized and forced to live in a faraway colony with other “wrong tails.” Sam and Lori embark on adventures that include rescuing sea turtles, retrieving pearls from sirens and journeying to an underwater volcano to cast the spell. Author Horst (Allingham: Desperate Ride, 2013, etc.) has a surprisingly good ear for what a precocious preteen girl sounds like, and she fills the novel with long passages of narration in Sam’s smart, self-assured voice: “Good gums are what you’re after when you brush and floss. The rest is just icing on the cake. Well, maybe that’s not a good analogy, as neither icing nor cake is really good for your teeth.” Such quirkiness can come off as cartoonish or unrealistic, but Sam is a delight. Valuable lessons about accepting one’s differences, as well as those of the people around you, make this story an ideal beach read for young readers. One hopes Horst has further adventures planned for Sam.

A quirky tale of tails with an endearing narrator whom young girls would love to befriend.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1502556608

Page Count: 132

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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