An introductory foray into Japanese culture for fantasy readers.



A Japanese teen travels the spirit world to break a curse upon her family.

Tanquary’s debut explores the Japanese spirit world through 13-year-old Saki. Her family travels to her grandmother’s rural village for its Obon ceremony, but she’d rather spend her summer vacation with her friends back in Tokyo. On the first evening of the night parade, when ancestors’ spirits return to visit their relatives, Saki is tricked by local kids into ringing a sacred bell. Later that night, she is awoken by the first of three spirit guides who aid her quest to break the curse of death upon her family. She soon learns that the entire human world is in grave danger. During her journey she meets spirits she has only seen in her childhood books. Most spirits do not care for human children, but Saki manages to find help in unexpected places. Tanquary provides a cursory introduction to Shinto tradition and culture but fails to fully commit to the Japanese spirit world. Some spirits are called by their Japanese names while others use the English translations (“fox” instead of “kitsune” and “ogre” instead of “oni”; but “kappa” for a water-spirit and “tengu” for a birdlike spirit). This inconsistency, together with a tendency to tell rather than show, distracts readers from the supernatural elements of Saki’s adventures and keeps them from immersing themselves in her world.

An introductory foray into Japanese culture for fantasy readers. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-2324-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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


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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From the Moon Base Alpha series , Vol. 1

When Dr. Holtz’s body is discovered just outside the lunar colony, everyone assumes he made a mistake putting on his spacesuit—but 12-year-old Dashiell “Dash” Gibson has reason to believe this was no accident.

Earth’s first space base has been a living hell for Dash. There’s not much to do on the moon besides schoolwork and virtual-reality gaming, and there’s only a handful of kids his age up there with him. The chance to solve a murder is exactly the type of excitement Dash needs. As clues are found and secrets are uncovered, Dash comes to understand that some of the base’s residents aren’t what they seem to be. With a small cast of characters supplying an excellent variety of suspects, Gibbs creates the best kind of “murder on a train” mystery. The genius, however, is putting the train in space. Closed quarters and techno–mumbo-jumbo add delightful color to the proceedings. Thankfully, the author doesn’t let the high-concept setting overshadow the novel’s mystery. The whodunit is smartly paced and intricately plotted. Best of all, the reveal is actually worth all the buildup. Thrillers too often fly off the rails in their final moments, but the author’s steady hand keeps everything here on track.

Fully absorbing. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9486-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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