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THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO CURSES

From the Spellchasers series , Vol. 1

A real treat.

A rollicking introduction to a fantasy trilogy set in Scotland.

After a confrontation with a neighbor who disposes of his dog’s waste on the sidewalk, 11-year-old Molly Drummond finds herself victim of a curse that turns her into a hare when chased by dogs. What’s a girl to do? Enroll in a workshop for removing curses, of course. At Aggie Sharpe’s curse-lifting workshop, Molly meets other curse victims: Beth, a purple-haired dryad; blond Innes, a shape-shifting kelpie; Atacama, a sphinx; and a toad who vainly communicates with croaks no one understands. Each has his or her own reasons for wanting to be curse-free: Beth’s will eventually destroy all the trees in her forest; Innes’ kills water creatures when certain weather conditions are met; Atacama’s prevents him from being a “true” sphinx, for his riddle has been taken away; and the nonverbal toad’s is a mystery. Given very little instruction, Molly and her classmates realize that with a little teamwork and ingenuity, they can help break one another’s curses. From the first word, readers are dropped straight into the lively action, with nary a breather until the final page turn. A minor character is described as “dark-skinned”; the principals all appear to be white. Colloquialisms such as “howk the tatties” (dig potatoes), “a bit of a cheek” (impertinence), and “daft” (silly) and British-English spellings add realism (such as it is) and anchor the story to its Scottish countryside setting.

A real treat. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78250-305-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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GHOSTS

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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