Recommended to youths eager to read about a strong, teenage heroine fighting monsters but who aren’t quite old enough for...



A young girl from a low-income home discovers a surprising family legacy in English’s debut novel, a darkly funny young-adult fantasy adventure.

Thirteen-year-old Coriander Jones and her younger sister, Autumn, are on the bus to Happy Haven, a summer camp that mostly takes children from poor families, along with a number of friends and neighborhood kids, when their bus driver—or rather the lizardlike creature that seems to have possessed him—suddenly tries to kill them. Shortly after subduing and decapitating him, Coriander and her compatriots learn the truth: This isn’t an ordinary camp but rather one of the last lines of defense between our world and the Old Ones, ancient, Lovecraftian gods who want to tear down the barriers between the universes and take over reality. And so on top of the typical teenager problems, conflicts and such that occur at camp, Coriander also has to worry about fighting off creatures of darkness. She even learns that her “crazy” Aunt Collette is also a warrior in the fight to preserve this universe. Throughout the book, English balances suspenseful situations with a sharp sense of humor. Coriander makes for a fun, unusual first-person narrator for a female-driven YA story, neatly switching from self-deprecating digs at her social status to coping with the burden of being an otherwise everyday kid now learning how to fight actual gods and monsters. Centering on such a tough, self-reliant tomboy of a girl makes for a refreshing break from the angsty, pretty Barbie dolls that populate so much of YA fiction. Meanwhile, Coriander’s repeated warnings to readers to turn away if they would like to read something less frightening is nicely reminiscent of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Coriander’s story doesn’t have quite the bite of that series, and it isn’t a wildly new concept, but for young readers, it’s a nice introduction to urban fantasy and Lovecraft, with an entertaining mythology and even more entertaining characters.

Recommended to youths eager to read about a strong, teenage heroine fighting monsters but who aren’t quite old enough for Buffy.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615878935

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Cricket Cottage Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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