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

WRONG TAILS

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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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale.

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AARON SLATER, ILLUSTRATOR

From the Questioneers series

The latest book in the Questioneer series centers an African American boy who has dyslexia.

Roberts’ characteristic cartoon illustrations open on a family of six that includes two mothers of color, children of various abilities and racial presentations, and two very amused cats. In a style more expressive and stirring than other books in the series, Beaty presents a boy overcoming insecurities related to reading comprehension. Like Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas, the boy’s namesake, the protagonist loves to draw. More than drawing, however, young Aaron wishes to write, but when he tries to read, the letters appear scrambled (effectively illustrated with a string of wobbly, often backward letters that trail across the pages). The child retreats into drawing. After an entire school year of struggle, Aaron decides to just “blend in.” At the beginning of the next school year, a writing prompt from a new teacher inspires Aaron, who spends his evening attempting to write “a story. Write something true.” The next day in class, having failed to put words on paper, Aaron finds his voice and launches into a story that shows how “beauty and kindness and loving and art / lend courage to all with a welcoming heart.” In the illustration, a tableau of colorful mythological beings embodies Aaron’s tale. The text is set in a dyslexia-friendly type. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5396-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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