Powerful, moving, relevant.

ACROSS THE RAINBOW BRIDGE

STORIES OF NORSE GODS AND HUMANS

A compendium of Norse tales from the age of the Vikings.

In ninth-to-11th-century Scandinavia, the world was, to the humans who inhabited it, a place full of spirits, gods, trolls, giants, and dwarves. Midgard (“Middle Earth”), where humans lived, was also home to giants and dwarves and a place where spirits of the uneasy dead walked. The gods lived in Asgard, above Midgard, and occasionally came to visit Midgard by way of a three-strand rainbow bridge. The five tales gathered here, mostly from Iceland, have a powerful, unadorned way of going, reflecting the subsistence lives of the people who created them as a way to make sense of their often capricious existence. A mother and father implore the gods for help to save their daughter from a troll. A human girl is given the gift of flax by the goddess Frigg, wife of Odin, the Allfather. While the archaic details may be unfamiliar, the basic essence of the human condition comes through loud and clear—and comfortingly. With each story, readers will realize both the close connection the people felt with the natural world and how deeply they lived their spare and forceful existence. Equally spare and forceful are the masterful illustrations. Silhouette spots are interspersed with dramatic, limited-color double-page spreads that show off and deepen the narrative, sometimes portraying harsh, raw, and even frightening scenes, sometimes gentle and illuminating ones; each is a tour de force of design and execution.

Powerful, moving, relevant. (Traditional literature. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1771-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick Studio

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A sensitive, moving debut.

THE UNICORN IN THE BARN

When 11-year-old Eric Harper begins caring for an injured unicorn, his life is changed by the choices he makes, the relationships he forms, and the secrets he uncovers.

Eric lives with his family on land that has belonged to Harpers for generations and shares a special bond with his grandmother. One day, Eric spies what he thinks is a white deer but quickly realizes is a white unicorn. Filled with the “most amazing feeling of comfort and happiness and excitement,” Eric follows the lame unicorn to the farmhouse his ailing grandmother recently sold to Dr. Brancusi, a veterinarian, and her daughter, Allegra. (All three characters appear to be white.) Dr. Brancusi senses Eric’s concern and asks him to help her treat the unicorn. Discovering the unicorn is pregnant with twins, Dr. Brancusi warns Eric they must keep her hidden until the babies are born and hires him to assist. Eric’s affinity to the unicorn deepens, and when she’s threatened and runs away, he frantically searches. In the end, although Eric experiences loss, he gains a special family connection. Despite the presence of supernatural creatures, Eric’s quiet, genuine, first-person voice tells a realistic story of family love and discovering one’s true self, the presence of the unicorn and other magical creatures adding just a touch of whimsy to a story about very real emotions, revealed in Green’s black-and-white illustrations.

A sensitive, moving debut. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-76112-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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A muddled middle, with little sign of movement toward a final conflict or resolution.

THE LAST DRAGON

From the Revenge of Magic series , Vol. 2

Nightmarish visions prompt desperate gambles for young magic-wielder Fort as he continues his efforts to rescue his father from the mysterious Old Ones.

Showing no inclination to pick up the opener’s plodding pace, Riley marches his preteen spellcaster through wordy reveries and exposition, conveniently overheard conversations, and recurrent dream encounters with a foe given to ALL-CAPS bombast as one ill-starred rescue scheme gives way on the fly to others. Doing his best to shuck annoyed friends and allies who insist on saving his bacon anyway, Fort eventually finds himself in a subterranean realm facing dwarves, elves (one elf, anyway), huge monsters—and an Old One who turns out to be a dragon willing to help subdue his three repressive kindred elementals before laboriously “fathering” an egg. (Just to muddy the waters a bit more, the titular dragon turns out to be another one altogether, hiding back on Earth and remaining offstage throughout this episode.) Magic, mostly teleportation and telepathy with admixtures of mind control and the occasional exploding fireball, gets brisk workouts, but in the end, the dark is still rising. Fort seems too colorless to inspire the sort of loyalty he gets from his supporting cast, which is well stocked with firecrackers and wild cards. Again, Fort’s circle isn’t entirely white, but the default is in operation.

A muddled middle, with little sign of movement toward a final conflict or resolution. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2572-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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