An attractive blend of fairy-tale elements with self-esteem encouragement.



Told in rhyming verse, this illustrated book for kids ages 1 to 7 tells the tale of a princess with magical hair who is cursed by an unhappy troll.

A wise king and beautiful queen have a daughter they name Princess Marie Antoinette. She’s a perfect sweetheart with one noticeable difference from other babies: “The princess’s hair was magic— / the real fairy-tale stuff.” It changes color throughout the day, and though the colors are pretty, the princess’s parents are worried. A doctor prescribes “cough syrup and leeches” and warns that if Marie’s hair is cut, “she might stop being herself.” The baby’s fairy godmother arrives to reassure them that “the princess’s hair is a different affair / that comes from the magic realm.” To protect his daughter, the king declares her hair a national treasure, never to be cut. As Marie grows up, her hair grows longer and longer, heavier and heavier, until she needs help carrying it from “Six maids, five servants, / a kitchen helper, butler, and caddie, / the teacher and his silly pet, / a young page, and poor choir lady.” When a talented new court hairstylist arrives, the princess gains more freedom to move about and goes to school, where her magical hair amuses other students by changing color and dispensing butterflies and treats. Marie’s hair is cursed by a bitter, gloomy troll with a grudge, but her kindness finds a way to reach him. Mammonek (Escape From Cat City, 2018) tells a fanciful story bolstered by some serious undercurrents. Readers will likely enjoy the fun of all the ways Marie’s hair behaves and misbehaves and the various attempts to contain it. At the same time, the book includes messages about good self-care and the necessity of living in the real world, not in dreams. The rhyming verse usually works well, although the scansion can be off. Mammonek’s illustrations are a charming collage of photos and digital artwork in confectionary colors set against backdrops of swirls, butterflies, and other images.

An attractive blend of fairy-tale elements with self-esteem encouragement.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5255-4907-6

Page Count: 136

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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