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


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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A charming series opener.


From the Magic in the Walls series , Vol. 1

A foundling mouse sets out to uncover the mystery of her origins and of the magical needle sized for humans that was left with her.

Delphine’s travels begin with a summons to the palace, where her growing reputation as a brilliant seamstress commands an order for a ball gown for Princess Petits-Oiseaux—and also gives her a chance to discover exciting hints about a vanished order of needle-wielding magic mice known as the Threaded and of an ancient war with the rats. Meanwhile, no sooner does Midnight, cruel king of the rats, learn that the needle they have been seeking for a century has been found than said old war suddenly heats up and turns into a deadly chase. Also meanwhile, only barely noticed by the animal cast but sure to snag readers’ attention, certain events involving another seamstress, a pumpkin coach, a ball, a prince, and a glass slipper are happening above the floorboards in the parallel human world. That isn’t the only sly touch in this bibbidi bobbidi debut, which is rich in clearly delineated character types, features plenty of brisk action, and is also, overall, more than a bit reminiscent in tone and setting to Brian Jacques’ Redwall series (though with more focus on fashion than food). While this volume is mostly setup, heroes and villains alike end up on their marks, and plenty of loose ends remain to stitch up later.

A charming series opener. (Animal fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-04802-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Chills and thrills aplenty.


From the Wonder List Adventures series , Vol. 2

Two young travelers find wonder and terror on the spectacular Kangia Icefjord.

After surviving both natural hazards and hijacking by wildlife smugglers in Escape Galápagos (2019), the adventures continue for 13-year-old Ezzy Skylar and her younger brother, Luke. No sooner do they arrive with their dad in Ilulissat on Greenland’s western coast than they are embroiled in further eco-themed bad behavior. Ezzy and Luke find themselves shot at, left in a locked room, forced to make their way through a deadly iceberg field (once on foot and later by boat), and, most thrilling of all, kayaking wildly through the glacier’s interior down a meltwater tunnel. At last, however, they uncover an unethical plan to stimulate the local trade in tourists eager to see melting glaciers. Encounters with fetching sled dog puppies, impressive humpback whales, and enormous mosquitoes add lighter notes to these misadventures, and frequent references to climate change and its effects supply a unifying theme. Prager closes with notes on what is real (the science and most of the setting) and what is made up in the story. Main characters present White; some supporting characters are cued (though not named) as Inuit. The Skylar children’s judgmental statements about traditional food and hunting practices are presented with little context to help readers understand Native Greenlandic perspectives. Illustrations not seen.

Chills and thrills aplenty. (maps) (Eco-fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-943431-70-0

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Tumblehome Learning

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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