Effervescent, thrilling, and practically perfect in every way.

THORNWOOD

From the Sisters Ever After series , Vol. 1

It’s hard living beneath the looming curse of becoming the Sleeping Beauty; even harder, in this middle-grade fairy-tale retelling, is being Sleeping Beauty’s sister.

Eleven-year-old Princess Briony loves her older sister, Rosalin. Honestly, she does; she’s just so tired of being ignored while beautiful, doomed Rosalin occupies everyone’s attention. Yet when Briony wakes up on her sister’s 16th birthday in a castle turret equipped with spinning wheel and fairy godmother, she discovers the price of being “important.” Cypess turns her talents for delicate prose and dark, twisty plotting to exploring the characters often left at the periphery. The castle servants, villagers, even fairies—wicked and helpful alike—have their own personalities and agendas. Briony is a delight: spunky, snarky, and brave enough to admit she’s scared. The other characters are equally compelling: Edwin, the clever “village dolt”; Varian, the princely hero, with secrets upon secrets; the terrifying fairy godmother; and the even more terrifying eponymous thicket of thorns, domain of the vicious fairy queen. The heart of the story, though, lies in the utterly authentic relationship between the sisters, who squabble, tease, and hurt each other—and love one another with a fierceness that absolutely demands a happily-ever-after, which this fairy tale delivers, although not one anybody ever expected. Characters read as White by default.

Effervescent, thrilling, and practically perfect in every way. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17883-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative,...

THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

From the Legendary Alston Boys series , Vol. 1

Can this really be the first time readers meet the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County? Cousins and veteran sleuths Otto and Sheed Alston show us that we are the ones who are late to their greatness.

These two black boys are coming to terms with the end of their brave, heroic summer at Grandma’s, with a return to school just right around the corner. They’ve already got two keys to the city, but the rival Epic Ellisons—twin sisters Wiki and Leen—are steadily gaining celebrity across Logan County, Virginia, and have in hand their third key to the city. No way summer can end like this! These young people are powerful, courageous, experienced adventurers molded through their heroic commitment to discipline and deduction. They’ve got their shared, lifesaving maneuvers committed to memory (printed in a helpful appendix) and ready to save any day. Save the day they must, as a mysterious, bendy gentleman and an oversized, clingy platypus have been unleashed on the city of Fry, and all the residents and their belongings seem to be frozen in time and place. Will they be able to solve this one? With total mastery, Giles creates in Logan County an exuberant vortex of weirdness, where the commonplace sits cheek by jowl with the utterly fantastic, and populates it with memorable characters who more than live up to their setting.

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative, thrill-seeking readers, this is a series to look out for. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-46083-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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