KNOCKABEG

A FAMINE TALE

An author of historical fiction and nonfiction tries her hand in the faery world. The Good People or Trooping Faeries declare war on their enemies when they discover the evil Nuckelavees’ plan to take over all of Ireland by ruining the potato crop. Without potatoes as a food source, the mortal families won’t have food to leave out for the faeries, the humans and faeries will starve, and both will have to abandon the land to the Nuckelavees. Lyons’s human and spirit characters have distinct personalities, which serve to invest readers in caring about the survival of the faeries in the various battle scenes. Most interesting of all is Sticky, an oddly mysterious faery who is revealed to be an evil Solitary One serving out a five-year punishment among the Good People. She holds the fate of both the Trooping Faeries and the mortal family she loves in her hands, and not until the somewhat suspenseful end do readers discover whether Sticky will do the right thing. Narrated by a seanchaí—Gaelic for “storyteller”—this contains many colloquial expressions, some of which are defined in the glossary. Try giving this to lovers of historical fiction or fantasy; paired with Patricia Reilly Giff’s Nory Ryan’s Song (2000), readers will gain another perspective on the 19th-century’s Irish potato famine. (glossary, laws of Trooping Faeries physics, author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-09283-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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The book is a cute, but rather standard offering from Avi (Tom, Babette, and Simon, p. 776, etc.).

POPPY

From the Poppy series , Vol. 3

An adolescent mouse named Poppy is off on a romantic tryst with her rebel boyfriend when they are attacked by Mr. Ocax, the owl who rules over the area.

He kills the boyfriend, but Poppy escapes and Mr. Ocax vows to catch her. Mr. Ocax has convinced all the mice that he is their protector when, in fact, he preys on them mercilessly. When the mice ask his permission to move to a new house, he refuses, blaming Poppy for his decision. Poppy suspects that there is another reason Mr. Ocax doesn't want them to move and investigates to clear her name. With the help of a prickly old porcupine and her quick wits, Poppy defeats her nemesis and her own fears, saving her family in the bargain. 

The book is a cute, but rather standard offering from Avi (Tom, Babette, and Simon, p. 776, etc.). (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-531-09483-9

Page Count: 147

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1995

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