The story recalls Lloyd Alexander at his wry, humane best; readers will be happy for every moment they spend at castle...

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DRAGON CASTLE

Noted Native American storyteller and author Bruchac turns to the Slovakian side of his family heritage to produce an entirely fresh and funny fantasy.

All his life, 15-year-old Rashko has suffered his family of fools: his absent-minded, naive father, his terminally innocent mother and especially his permanently happy, utterly simple older brother. His mental superiority is put to the test when, his parents inexplicably absent, the evil Baron Temny arrives at family castle with a small army. His brother is instantly enchanted (literally) by the Baron's oily "daughter," so it's up to Rashko to thwart the Baron and save their tiny domain. Bruchac intersperses Rashko's story with that of his long-ago ancestor, Pavol, who fought a dragon and defeated the Dark Lord. Readers will see fairly quickly that Rashko, for all his vaunted intellect, gives those around him far too little credit. Before the story's out, he will need the assistance of the many endearingly quirky secondary characters that round out the cast, from a couple of wonderful, telepathic wolves and the loyal, preternaturally aware family retainer to a pair of dashing jugglers. Rashko's wry voice reveals a teen whose sense of self-importance is balanced healthily by a goodhearted, winning decency.

The story recalls Lloyd Alexander at his wry, humane best; readers will be happy for every moment they spend at castle Hladka Hvorka. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 9, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3376-3

Page Count: 348

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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