A solid, entertaining and thoughtful fantasy tale, aside from a few small hitches.

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THE CURSE OF THE NEVERLAND

MacLaine’s debut novel delivers a new twist on an old classic, complete with pirates, dragons, pixies, childhood adventure and a twee fairyland.

Peter Pan long ago left the Neverland, grew up, grew old and died. His former companion, Tinkerbell, never forgave this betrayal; after renaming herself “Belle,” she departed the Neverland as well. Now the enchanted place is in the hands of Cap’n Hook’s successor, the merciless Capt. Li’l Jack, and his dread dragon, Sincoraz. If Belle wants to save the Neverland, she’s going to need the help of Peter Pan’s heir, Piper Pizzinni, who’s unknowingly his granddaughter. Piper is in the foster system, where her life hasn’t been conducive to the happy thoughts she’ll need in the coming struggle. With the help of some other “Lost Girls” (foster kids who refer to themselves as “the Lifers”), Piper joins the mission to save the Neverland, although she and Belle will have to overcome their differences to do so. MacLaine does an admirable job of capturing the feel of a classic children’s adventure novel, with genuine touches of magic and adventure throughout. The characters, however, keep the story grounded. Piper, in particular, is a strong, relatable protagonist motivated by the disappearance of her parents but not solely defined by it. The author’s depiction of Belle shows what might happen if the somewhat vain Tinkerbell had to truly face losing Peter forever. The story might have benefited from even more thoughtful, direct interactions with the source material; unfortunately, the book ends with jarring abruptness and little resolution, although this may be remedied by future books in the series.

A solid, entertaining and thoughtful fantasy tale, aside from a few small hitches.

Pub Date: March 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9898692-7-0

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Artisan Bookworks

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2014

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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