A grand finish to a YA trilogy that never fails to challenge audience expectations.

Galadria

PETER HUDDLESTON & THE KNIGHTS OF THE LEAF

The final chapter in a YA fantasy trilogy about a boy who learns that he’s the prince of a magical, parallel world.

When readers left the titular hero in Peter Huddleston & the Mists of the Three Lakes (2014), he and his aunt, Queen Gillian Willowbrook, were ambushed during a parade celebrating his arrival in Galadria. The vile Knor Shadowray, his troops, and an army of flying harpies planned to slaughter the House of Willowbrook and take the Golden Realm by force. Peter escapes with the help of members of the House of Crimson and hides in an underground chamber. He’s shocked to find his mother, Patricia, there; he’d been told that she’d died in a car accident. After she explains her tragic back story, she leads him through Galadria’s labyrinthine sewers to the Great Palace, where Queen Gillian and her entourage are under siege by Shadowray forces. There, the queen decides to send Peter and her father, Henry, to recruit the Knights of the Leaf to aid them. The ancient order guards the primordial Forests of Fernell, where even the most inviting sights and smells can be deadly. If Peter and Henry survive the forest and find the knights, will the group be willing to help? For this finale, author de Leon sends his imagination into overdrive, delivering gorgeously elaborate characters and locations to readers who’ve been waiting to see what lurks in Galadria. Alongside the Knights of the Leaf, for example, are the Twigglia, pixies capable of deadly hypnotism; the Priestesses of Sertania, who abide with snakes; and wraiths that live in the corpse of a frozen dragon. Describing the latter, de Leon writes, “Each of the entities looked like a massless veil of deep shadow, but with a center full of silently erupting electricity.” The author strives a bit too hard for epic drama at times, bowing to a sci-fi/fantasy trope that darkens what is mostly a colorful trilogy. The final battle against the Shadowrays, although brutally violent, is genuinely cathartic.

A grand finish to a YA trilogy that never fails to challenge audience expectations.

Pub Date: March 27, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 126

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2014

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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