A page-turning tale about an appealing, young narrator suddenly thrust into a magical world.

Fairy Godmothers Are For Wimps

Life isn’t going so great for Haley until she finds out one of her teachers is her fairy godmother.

Haley is a typical middle-schooler: Her older sister is seemingly perfect and gets all her parents’ attention; she has a tough time with her classes; the boy she likes doesn’t pay attention to her; and all she wants to do is eat junk food, hang out with her best friend and babysit the neighborhood kids. After a particularly tough day at school, she starts hearing her language arts teacher’s voice in her head and realizes that Ms. Hagglesworth, a warm, friendly, understanding woman who lets her students sit on the floor and drink tea, is her fairy godmother. Haley starts to depend on Ms. Hagglesworth to help her out of difficult situations—trying out for violin chair in band, forgetting her instrument and getting home on time after a night of babysitting. But Haley soon learns that the help she receives has a price, not the least of which is forgetting the impending due date for a science-fair project, something that slips her mind while she’s learning to fly with Ms. Hagglesworth and otherwise engaging in magic. The story has a few twists, including the ending, which changes the tone of the story. Veil, author of several young adult and children’s stories has mastered the vocabulary and tone of a kid’s lit; e.g., “ ‘Ank ew,’ I said with a very full mouth. My mom would have been very disappointed in my diet and my lack of manners. Ms. Hagglesworth was so much fun to be around.” Haley is a likable, sympathetic main character, and the supporting characters are also fleshed out. The pacing is exactly right; Veil takes time to set the scene and introduce characters before beginning the magical parts of the book. Finally, it’s an attention grabber, particularly when the plot turns darker toward the end of the story.

A page-turning tale about an appealing, young narrator suddenly thrust into a magical world.

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1492831556

Page Count: 114

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2014

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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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