A DRAGON'S GUIDE TO THE CARE AND FEEDING OF HUMANS

From the Dragon's Guide series , Vol. 1

This comedy starring a 3,000-year-old dragon and a scrappy little girl takes young readers into a fantasy world situated right next to ours.

Miss Drake enjoys humans but sees them as pets. Sadly, her most recent pet, a lady she called “Fluffy” but whom her family knew as “Great-Aunt Amelia,” recently passed away. Now, Amelia’s niece, 10-year-old Winnie, has come to live in Miss Drake’s mansion in San Francisco. Right from the start, Winnie just won’t follow Miss Drake’s rules for pets. When the girl draws some fanciful creatures in a magical sketchbook, the creatures become real and escape, causing Miss Drake to frantically work to contain the damage. When one of Winnie’s sketches turns out to be a truly dangerous creature, even the best of the magical participants at the Enchanter’s Fair can’t defeat it. Creating a magical world that lies alongside but is concealed from ours, Yep and Ryder write the story from Miss Drake’s prissy perspective, using the framework of a pet-care book. The tale is alternately comical, suspenseful and sometimes sweetly emotional, as when it touches on the deaths of Great-Aunt Amelia and Winnie’s father and as Miss Drake becomes increasingly fond of Winnie. The playful pen-and-ink illustrations by GrandPré at the beginning of each chapter add yet more charm.

 Delightful whimsy. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-39228-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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A sweet adventure and a paean to imagination and childhood innocence.

THE LAND OF ROAR

From the Land of Roar series , Vol. 1

A fantasy world comes to life and lures its young creators back into it in this imaginative middle-grade debut and U.K. import.

Narrator Arthur always loved playing make-believe in Grandad’s attic with his twin sister, Rose. Years ago they dreamed up Roar, a magical land that they entered via an old fold-up cot that acted as a portal. Now that they are 11 and starting school at Langdon Academy, Rose has new friends and wants nothing to do with her brother or their imaginary world. Rose may be done with Roar, but it’s not finished with her. When their grandfather is kidnapped and taken into Roar, Arthur and Rose must team up to mount a rescue mission. McLachlan does an excellent job of establishing the sibling tension before introducing the fantasy elements, and Rose’s desire to grow up and fit in feels as familiar and accessible as Arthur’s yearning to remain a child. While obviously reminiscent of classic fantasy, this narrative’s sheer inventiveness marks it as distinct. The twins’ widowed grandfather, a larger-than-life jokester from Mauritius, is a Peter Pan–like figure whose abduction brings the narrative into Roar, allowing the text and Mantle’s illustrations to go wild with creativity. The use of a wordless double-page spread to depict Arthur’s arrival into the fantasy realm is particularly inventive. Arthur and Rose are depicted as kids of color.

A sweet adventure and a paean to imagination and childhood innocence. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-298271-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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