The history and nature of the Ashton curse at least begins to move out of the shadows at last. Still, much else remains to...

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THE INTERRUPTED TALE

From the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series , Vol. 4

Amid much mention of cake and iambic pentameter, the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females survives a challenge thanks to its star graduate, nanny Penelope Lumley, and her three wolfish wards.

Invited on her 16th birthday to deliver an address to her school’s residents and sundry others at a Celebrate Alumnae Knowledge Exposition, Miss Lumley travels to her alma mater with young Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia Incorrigible. There, she discovers that malign “Judge Quinzy,” disguised and purportedly dead father of her employer, Lord Frederick Ashton, has taken over the board of trustees and instituted a repressive regime that includes changing the school’s very name to the Quinzy School for Miserable Girls. Why? It seems he’s after a certain old diary that holds clues as to why the Ashton men have been howling at the full moon for generations. As in previous episodes, Wood threads a boisterous gaslamp melodrama with instructional references (here to poetic meters) and broad but inscrutable clues. These seem to link the Ashtons, the Incorrigibles and Miss Lumley herself in some still-mysterious way. As always, details thrill: The school vet, Dr. Westminster, is first met successfully teaching chickens to dance the hokeypokey.

The history and nature of the Ashton curse at least begins to move out of the shadows at last. Still, much else remains to be illuminated in future sequels, which fans will be howling for. (finished illustrations not seen) (Comic melodrama. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-179122-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.

A GIRL, A RACCOON, AND THE MIDNIGHT MOON

This is the way Pearl’s world ends: not with a bang but with a scream.

Pearl Moran was born in the Lancaster Avenue branch library and considers it more her home than the apartment she shares with her mother, the circulation librarian. When the head of the library’s beloved statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is found to be missing, Pearl’s scream brings the entire neighborhood running. Thus ensues an enchanting plunge into the underbelly of a failing library and a city brimful of secrets. With the help of friends old, uncertainly developing, and new, Pearl must spin story after compelling story in hopes of saving what she loves most. Indeed, that love—of libraries, of books, and most of all of stories—suffuses the entire narrative. Literary references are peppered throughout (clarified with somewhat superfluous footnotes) in addition to a variety of tangential sidebars (the identity of whose writer becomes delightfully clear later on). Pearl is an odd but genuine narrator, possessed of a complex and emotional inner voice warring with a stridently stubborn outer one. An array of endearing supporting characters, coupled with a plot both grounded in stressful reality and uplifted by urban fantasy, lend the story its charm. Both the neighborhood and the library staff are robustly diverse. Pearl herself is biracial; her “long-gone father” was black and her mother is white. Bagley’s spot illustrations both reinforce this and add gentle humor.

The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.   (reading list) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6952-1

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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There’s nothing exceptional here, but the otherworldly elements and headlong pacing will sweep readers along.

HENRY HUNTER AND THE CURSED PIRATES

From the Henry Hunter series , Vol. 2

In a second brush with the supernatural (following Henry Hunter and the Beast of Snagov, 2016), brainy young sleuth Henry and his faithful chronicler, Adolphus, are kidnapped by undead pirates. Yo ho ho!

News that a friend’s parents have vanished on a cruise in the Caribbean prompts the dapper kid detective (looking ever natty in suit, tie, and fedora in Tankard’s lavishly detailed drawings) to take a quick sabbatical from St. Grimbold’s School for Extraordinary Boys and fly to Barbados to investigate. Hardly has he begun than an ectoplasmic tentacle grabs him and his sidekick, Dolf—depositing both aboard the spectral ship of Blackbeard himself. The legendary pirate is still around courtesy of a curse laid on a certain bit of booty and, since ghosts can’t hold shovels, bent on collecting hapless tourists to dig up buried treasure. Matthews enthusiastically chucks bits of pirate lore, along with the odd skeleton, map, and treasure chest, into the enterprise, and for additional atmosphere, the illustrator strews margins and corners with bugs, fish, stormy seas, and nautical jetsam. Aside from a “Rastafarian” guide, the entire cast, living and otherwise, is evidently white (and, with one minor exception, male). By the end, the curse is broken, the pirates gone, the captives rescued, and Henry himself mysteriously vanished in the wake of an encounter with merpeople. Stay tuned.

There’s nothing exceptional here, but the otherworldly elements and headlong pacing will sweep readers along. (Fantasy/mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-51071-039-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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