Solid introduction to a potentially vast magical world.

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COUNTRYSIDE

THE BOOK OF THE WISE

In this YA fantasy debut, dark forces target a young man after learning he has roots in a magical community.

Eleven-year-old Luke Rayburn from Houston, Texas, is the oldest of five children. When his father loses his job at the tire plant, life becomes a bit uncertain. Luke usually finds solace under his favorite oak tree in the lot across the street. But one night, a sinister man named Saul appears out of the darkness to inform Luke that his fate is tied to an ancient, powerful book and, by extension, the world. Afterward, his life only gets stranger when benevolent tree dryads and black-eyed pursuers (called darkmen) appear. Thankfully, Luke’s grandparents are able to whisk the family away—via a magical tunnel—to a secret town called Countryside. There, all beings legendary and wonderful live peacefully (including angels and centaurs), and Luke receives special schooling in the manipulation of light. Yet he must still beware the forces of evil that desire the ancient book (wherever it may be hidden), because someone in Countryside is helping darkmen—and worse enemies—sneak past the community’s magical barriers. There’s also a red twinkle on the northern horizon foreshadowing the world’s destruction. Debut author Cope brings the loveliness of small-town America to his narrative through upstanding characters (children use sir and ma’am when addressing adults) and idyllic settings; in a gardened alley, for example, “Pinpricks of blue light floated through the air...visible against a canopy of ivy, and birds the size of plums flitted back and forth.” It’s easy for Luke—and readers—to slip into this cozy realm that’s laced with magic and presided over by confident adults, like Uncle Landon and estate manager Quentin Acharon. These elements make for a rather sedate narrative, however. Football games and cute girls on horseback keep the story in first gear until the shadowy villains slither into view. While the diverse plot threads weave together colorfully, the result feels more like a mystery that’s setting up the fantasy to come.

Solid introduction to a potentially vast magical world.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0996050012

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Tiner Publishers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...

WAITING FOR THE BIBLIOBURRO

Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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