Hopefully, Prydain's history will be continued.

THE BOOK OF THREE

From the Chronicles of Prydain series , Vol. 1

Prydain is an imagined territory, somewhat like Wales and peopled with characters whose genealogy stretches back to Welsh legend.

The Book of Three takes up Prydain's history during a wonderfully uncertain time — perhaps at the end of the Dark and the start of the Middle Ages. Mankind was still in the process of "becoming" in Prydain then. For instance, there are two characters here who begin to cross the line into humanity — Gurgi, a near animal, comic in his cowardice and irresponsibility, who begins the change by responding to kindness through serving with no ulterior motive for once; Doli, a dwarf who left his enchanted underground world behind because he had forgotten the trick of making himself invisible. In fact, the people of the time were forgetting, too. There were still those who could control occult power, but the methods of invoking it were not being systematically handed down; some was lost and some hoarded for evil ends. Taran, young boy, dubbed "Assistant Pig Keeper" to satisfy his dreams of glory, is the central character. A ward of the wizard, Dallben, he is in charge of an oracular pig, Hen Wen. His search for her after a raid by the horrible Horned King brings him to such strong fantasy characters as: Gwydion, a prince who teaches him the first principle of leadership — self control; Eilonwy, a runaway junior witch, and Fflewddur, an incompetent bard. If these characters don't suggest T.H. White's treatment of the Arthurian legends, they should. The author draw his figures with the same touches of irritability, doltishness and contrariness that leavens with high good humor the high fantasy. The major theme is good against evil— black magic against white — but (give thanks for creative restraint) only to a draw.

Hopefully, Prydain's history will be continued.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 1964

ISBN: 0805080481

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1964

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Rescues and kittens by the carload, with a bit of inner growth on the side.

BASTILLE VS. THE EVIL LIBRARIANS

From the Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians series , Vol. 6

Previous prognostications of failure and doom notwithstanding, this bustling entry features miraculous survivals and just deserts for the biblio-baddies.

Switching narrators in the wake of devastating deeds at the end of The Dark Talent (2016), the co-authors pick up the action with stern, stab-happy Bastille describing her rescue of traumatized Alcatraz Smedry from a Library of Congress that is filling up with lava, then a desperate effort to keep ultra-evil librarian Biblioden the Scrivener from forcing the world’s remaining Free Kingdoms to check themselves out permanently. Despite her own forewarnings of a disastrous ending and stern suggestion to start with Volume 1 for the backstory, she does fill in enough of what’s going on for readers to keep pace—and in characteristically take-no-prisoners tones, lays out a rip-roaring tale in which she fulfills her role as Alcatraz’s protector with plenty of brisk (if bloodless) sword work and an unshakeable loyalty that, along with the occasional punch, draws him out of a paralyzing slough of guilt and self-loathing. A climactic battle features a horde of bloodthirsty kittens and a ravenous, punning monster—followed by hints that surviving librarians may be taking up worthier missions and, since Bastille insists on the veracity of this account, credible reasons why people the world around have talents for being late, breaking things, and like peccadillos. Most of the heroically posed figures in Lazo’s realistically modeled illustrations are light-skinned.

Rescues and kittens by the carload, with a bit of inner growth on the side. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-25-081106-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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