THE LADY AND THE LION

Long’s romantic, extravagantly detailed paintings provide showstopping accompaniment to this lightly reworked Grimm Brothers version of “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.” The course of true love runs anything but smooth for a merchant’s younger daughter when she meets a prince under a complex enchantment. First, he’s a lion by day, then he's transformed into a dove that she must seek for seven years, and then, just as they’re reunited, the enchantress behind it all snatches him away to a very remote castle. With help from several magical talismans and sympathetic Powers, the heroine rescues him at last, while the enraged enchantress falls from her high window in the ensuing escape. In a style that evokes both Persian miniatures and the pre-Raphaelite painters, Long frames pale, graceful figures clad in elaborately patterned silks and velvets within swirls of vines, flowers, waves, clouds, and stone arches. Readers who delight in the art of Kinuko Craft, Marianna Mayer, and like romantics will be dazzled. (Picture book/folktale. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-8037-2651-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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The main characters and the continuing story both come along so smartly (and Harry at last shows a glimmer of interest in...

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 3

The Harry Potter epic (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, p. 888, etc.) continues to gather speed as Harry enters his third year at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry and does battle with the traitor behind his parents’ deaths.

Besides coping with the usual adversaries’sneering classmate Draco Malfoy, evocatively-named Potions Master Snape—the young wizard-in-training has a new worry with the escape of Sirius Black, murderous minion of archenemy Lord Voldemort, from the magicians’ prison of Azkaban. Folding in subplots and vividly conceived magical creatures—Azkaban’s guards, known as dementors, are the very last brutes readers would want to meet in a dark alley—with characteristic abandon, Rowling creates a busy backdrop for Harry as she pushes him through a series of terrifying encounters and hard-fought games of Quidditch, on the way to a properly pulse-pounding climax strewn with mistaken identities and revelations about his dead father.

The main characters and the continuing story both come along so smartly (and Harry at last shows a glimmer of interest in the opposite sex, a sure sign that the tides of adolescence are lapping at his toes) that the book seems shorter than its page count: have readers clear their calendars if they are fans, or get out of the way if they are not. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 1999

ISBN: 0-439-13635-0

Page Count: 431

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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