With a first book this flat, it’s hard to envision a series.

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WINGS OF OLYMPUS

A foundling and a winged horse compete in a race planned by the Greek gods.

Pippa, nearly 12, loses her job in an Athenian stable after running off to follow a horse’s wing she saw in the sky. Could it have been Nikomedes, the flying horse ridden by Zeus? That night she falls asleep beneath a bush only to wake on Mount Olympus, the heavenly home of the gods, having been chosen by Aphrodite to ride her stallion Zephyr in a once-a-century race. The winning horse will become Zeus’ next mount; the winning rider, a demigod. Zephyr’s an unlikely champion, being both undersized and fidgety. This book is billed as the first in a series and bears many of the hallmarks of mediocre series fiction: shallow characters, contrived emotions, and lots of exclamation points. Despite her sad backstory, Pippa never inspires sympathy. Stereotypical Greek gods float in and out of the story without enough background to anchor them; the setting is vague despite lots of Greek words; and the plot doesn’t hold narrative tension. There aren’t serious consequences for losing the race, so it’s hard to care whether or not Pippa wins. The horses are multicolored; the riders seem to be white, and the gods appear also to be default white.

With a first book this flat, it’s hard to envision a series. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274152-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON

From the Where the Mountain Meets the Moon series , Vol. 1

To change her family’s fortunes, a poor Chinese girl embarks on a fantastical quest to discover she already has everything she needs to be happy. Minli and her parents live in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain, where they toil endlessly. Bitter and resentful, Minli’s mother complains when her husband fills Minli’s imagination with enchanting tales of Never-Ending Mountain and the Old Man of the Moon. “Eager for adventure,” Minli sets out alone seeking advice from the Old Man of the Moon. En route she befriends a dragon who joins her quest. Together they encounter a talking goldfish, a boy with a buffalo, a king, a fierce green tiger and laughing twins before scaling Never-Ending Mountain. Lin deftly incorporates elements from Chinese folk- and fairy tales to create stories within the main story and provide context for Minli’s quest. With her “lively and impulsive spirit,” Minli emerges a stalwart female role model who learns the importance of family, friendship and faith during her amazing journey. Richly hued illustrations reinforce the Chinese folk theme. (author’s note) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-11427-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2009

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