An imaginative but convoluted tooth-fairy origin tale with some plot points in need of streamlining.

ADRIANA'S QUEST

THE BIRTH OF THE TOOTH FAIRY

Where did the first tooth fairy come from? (Hint: Squirrels play a major role.)

In this debut children’s fantasy, the rather complicated history of the tooth fairy begins when forest squirrels come to a fairy village for help after waking up to find themselves wrapped in spider webs and missing their teeth. The fairies soon learn why. Notorious bad fairy Redanthan Trench took the teeth as a warning to the fairies that Giants (humans) are going to cut down the forest. Backed by Olcas, the wise old fairy chief, Trench demands that his cohorts join him in taking action to stop the Giants. But this crisis takes a back seat for the rest of the novel as shy fairy Adriana figures out how to replace the squirrels’ teeth using the magically transformed, discarded teeth of human children. Along the way, Adriana encounters a hungry fox, thwarts evildoing by Trench’s sidekick, enters into an unexpected friendship with a human girl, and finds a fairy elder with convenient expertise in turning fairy dust into coins for tooth exchanges. In this series opener, McQuaid (Adriana’s Plight, 2018) weaves in a bit of dental information for readers, too: Adriana learns that humans clean their teeth “with a special brush and some stringy stuff at least two times every day” and that losing a tooth can be scary for children. Some plot elements are a stretch even in a fantasy setting. Trench’s theft of squirrel teeth to warn of the forest threat is baffling. (And couldn’t he simply steal the squirrels’ new teeth, too?) The revelation of Olcas’ true nature is too abrupt for credibility, and the fate of the forest, the catalyst for the whole tale, comes up only intermittently. By the end of the story, it has become at best a loose end. But Adriana herself has authentic appeal. The strength of this book for grade-school readers is found in her discovery, observed in the first-person narration of her unnamed best friend, that she is both resourceful and courageous. Camisa’s (Adriana’s Plight, 2018) fine-lined pen-and-ink illustrations add overall charm.

An imaginative but convoluted tooth-fairy origin tale with some plot points in need of streamlining.

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5408-5650-0

Page Count: 54

Publisher: Kayelem Publishing LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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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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