A veritable buffet of fantasy conventions.

THE HIDDEN KNIFE

A gifted heroine must fulfill her destiny, no matter how fraught.

Vicky is the middle daughter of Kat Wardrop, a notorious ex-Raven guard of Queen Evangeline—and the only one to ever leave her service. Advised by a shadowy group called the Collective, the queen wants new Raven recruits to attend the Hogwarts-like Corvus School for the Artfully Inclined. As her daughter shows prowess in both combat and magic, Kat wants to shelter Vicky from Corvus and let her choose her own path. When a sudden and devastating event forces Vicky into attending the school after all, she, desperate with grief, makes a rash decision that could alter the fate of the entire kingdom. Marr’s splashy offering is packed full of an extensive array of beloved fantasy tropes ranging from mystical creatures like gargoyles and kelpies to a magical boarding school, alchemists, thieves, and portals to other worlds. While certainly a crowd pleaser, the plotting tends toward being overcrowded to the point of cliché, but the fast-paced chapters, each narrated from a different point of view, help move everything along. Echoing elements from series like Harry Potter and Nevermoor, and even Disney’s Frozen franchise, this will be popular with a wide swath of readers. Main characters read as White.

A veritable buffet of fantasy conventions. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-51852-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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