SUMMERLAND

“Well, we got no choice, an’ that’s a fact. The Rade has showed up, years before we ever done expected them, and yer about ten years shy o’ half-cooked, but we got no choice. There ain’t no time ta go looking for another champion. I guess ya’ll hafta do.” Thus is 11-year-old Ethan Feld, the worst ballplayer in the history of the game, drafted by the Home Run King of three worlds to forestall the end of the world at Ragged Rock. Ragged Rock is not a place but a moment—the last out of the bottom of the ninth—and the Rade is the combined hordes of Coyote, the Changer, who is bent on poisoning the four great branches of the World Tree. After the death of his mother, however, Ethan hasn’t much faith in his ability to be anybody’s hero, but when his Zeppelin-designer father is kidnapped by Coyote to engineer Ragged Rock, he takes up a baseball-bat-sized chunk of the World Tree and joins the cause. Plaiting together elements from Scandinavian and Native American mythology, American legend, and world literature, Pulitzer-winner Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, 2000, etc.), writing for young people for the first time, constructs a uniquely American fantasy peopled by were-animals, sasquatches, giants, and ferishers—fairies who look like nothing so much as 18-inch-high storybook Indians—and fueled by a healthy reverence for the Great American Game. As catcher and slugger for Big Chief Cinquefoil’s Traveling Shadowtails All-Star Baseball Club, Ethan is joined by Clam Island teammates Jennifer T. Rideout and Thor Wignutt, and an assortment of otherworldly supporters. Together they barnstorm across the Summerlands until, at Diamond Green, they meet Coyote and his team of Hobbledehoys, for one last, great game. The sprawling, vigorous narrative pulls out all the stops, gleefully reveling in the wonders it produces at every turn, from the magically ever-sunny corner of drizzly Clam Island to the varied denizens of the Summerlands. This raucous, exhilarating, joyful, and, above all, fun offering displays an enormous respect for the tradition of great fantasies that come before it, from Irving, Baum, and Nesbit, to Lewis, Tolkien, and Pullman, while confidently taking its place beside them. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7868-0877-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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A fantastic, heartbreaking crescendo that echoes beyond the final page.

WILLA OF DARK HOLLOW

From the Willa of the Wood series , Vol. 2

A young Faeran girl puts everything on the line to save her home and the family she loves.

Emerging from the charred ruins of the Faeran forest lair, 13-year-old green-skinned, brown-haired Willa has formed a new family with humans who care about the Great Smoky Mountain as much as she does. Unfortunately, the Sutton Lumber Company has plans to clear the forest for railroad tracks. Her White adoptive father, Nathaniel, has become a leading voice against the destruction, making him a target. After he is arrested on suspicion of murdering loggers, Willa asks for help from her Faeran clan, but they blame her for the death of their leader and subsequent loss of their old home. Even the forest itself has grown hostile as strange, deathly cold creatures attack. Adelaide, a new blond, blue-eyed friend, and Hialeah, Nathaniel’s White and Cherokee daughter, join Willa in protecting the forest, clearing Nathaniel’s name, saving the Faeran, and unraveling the mystery of the malicious beasts. This duology closer is a captivating, stirring tale of family, friendship, the environment, and our place in the world. At every turn, Willa is faced with higher stakes and decisions that are even harder to make; the consequences of each choice weigh on her heart. The gorgeous prose and imagery of the mountains will inspire in readers a deep admiration for nature and support for Willa’s fight.

A fantastic, heartbreaking crescendo that echoes beyond the final page. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-00760-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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