THE SISTERS GRIMM

BOOK THREE: THE PROBLEM CHILD

Poor choreography in the battle scenes drags the latest entry in this otherwise delicious series below par. After a brief but necessary recap, Buckley plunges his two young sleuths into further developments in their search for their snatched parents. These include the appearance of a reckless sorcerer uncle; repeated attacks from a savage Jabberwock ridden by Little Red Riding Hood (here a crazed homicidal maniac in the wake of what the Big Bad Wolf did to her family); and a desperate search for the vorpal blade, which is not just the only way to kill a Jabberwock, but also a key to Faerie. The dialogue (“I’m a fish that talks and you’re having trouble with me granting wishes?”), set pieces capped by a nerve-wracking visit to the hut of cannibal and soap-opera addict Baba Yaga and occasional theatrical illustrations from Ferguson are as clever as ever. But the headlong pace too often stumbles over outrageously destructive, lightning-swift attacks that somehow always leave characters time to ruminate, converse or fumble about in pockets for magical defenses. Even confirmed fans will hope for tighter writing in future outings. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8109-4914-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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RAMONA'S WORLD

Ramona returns (Ramona Forever, 1988, etc.), and she’s as feisty as ever, now nine-going-on-ten (or “zeroteen,” as she calls it). Her older sister Beezus is in high school, baby-sitting, getting her ears pierced, and going to her first dance, and now they have a younger baby sister, Roberta. Cleary picks up on all the details of fourth grade, from comparing hand calluses to the distribution of little plastic combs by the school photographer. This year Ramona is trying to improve her spelling, and Cleary is especially deft at limning the emotional nuances as Ramona fails and succeeds, goes from sad to happy, and from hurt to proud. The grand finale is Ramona’s birthday party in the park, complete with a cake frosted in whipped cream. Despite a brief mention of nose piercing, Cleary’s writing still reflects a secure middle-class family and untroubled school life, untouched by the classroom violence or the broken families of the 1990s. While her book doesn’t match what’s in the newspapers, it’s a timeless, serene alternative for children, especially those with less than happy realities. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16816-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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