Like comfort food for book lovers.

THE WILD BOOK

A 13-year-old boy discovers the magic of books in this enjoyable yet familiar coming-of-age tale from renowned Mexican author Villoro.

Summer begins for Juan with the terrible news of his parents’ separation. Instead of looking forward to fun times with his best friend, Juan must now pass his summer holidays with his eccentric uncle Tito, a reclusive man devoted to his vast library. When Uncle Tito names him a Lector Princeps, a reader with a powerful connection to books, Juan plunges deep into his uncle’s “labyrinth of books,” classified into distinct, enigmatic sections such as “Cheeses That Stink But Taste Delicious” and “Marmalade Is Not Money.” Framed in the past tense, with an older Juan recollecting his adventure as a lad, Villoro’s novel packs gentle wit in a minor saga. As Juan encounters books that move on their own, books that are allies, and even books that steal the contents of other books, his uncle recruits him into a search for The Wild Book, a mysterious book that eludes all readers. To find it Juan gets help from Catalina, a girl who literally leaves Juan tongue-tied. The author offers a narrative arc as traditional and archetypical as its characters, but some readers may find Juan’s adventure welcoming on its own merits. Plus, that the author and protagonist share a name adds a neat (if underutilized) wrinkle to this novel.

Like comfort food for book lovers. (Magical realism. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63206-147-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Yonder

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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