A worthy romp that manages to teach powerful lessons as it entertains.

Hello There, We've Been Waiting for You!

In this middle-grade novel, a girl coping with her mother’s death experiences a series of bizarre adventures involving a magical TV set after she moves in with her shopping-addicted grandmother.

Madison McGee, an 11-year-old tomboy with a love of the great outdoors, begins her summer mourning the sudden death of her mother from a heart attack. Madison has never known her father, and she has no guardian to turn to except her maternal grandmother, Florida Brown, a resident of the tiny town of Truth or Consequences, N.M. Florida, who cares less about her granddaughter’s tomboy interests and more about trying to pretty her up, is addicted to shopping shows on TV, filling her house with the useless, bizarre goods she orders every day. Lonely Madison finds solace in one neighbor’s sweet but neglected dog as well as an oddball woman named Rosalie Claire, who has a penchant for wise words and a fanny pack similar to Mary Poppins’ magical carpetbag. Madison’s already topsy-turvy summer gets even weirder when the MegaPix 6000 shows up at Florida’s house. This mysterious, magical television has the power to zap the viewer into whatever show he or she is currently watching, whether it be one of Florida’s shopping shows, Madison’s favorite teen sitcom or a survival-based reality show in the Amazon. Through their time in the MegaPix and in the real world, Madison and Florida end up learning a number of valuable lessons about the importance of family and accepting people’s differences, no matter how odd they might seem. Author Arnold’s debut novel, the first in a trilogy about Madison’s adventures with the MegaPix, is fun and fantastical, with wacky characters that burst off the page and into readers’ hearts. Though the plot at some points relies a bit too heavily on magic, Madison is relatable as a protagonist, which helps keep the story grounded, and its zaniness and originality should be a welcome distraction for young readers.

A worthy romp that manages to teach powerful lessons as it entertains.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1935212515

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Prospecta Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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