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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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS!

Another Seuss-chimera joins the ranks of the unforgettable Herlar and with the advent of the Grinch— a sort of Yule Ghoul who lives in a cave just north of who-ville. While all the Who's made ready on Christmas Eve the Grinch donned a Santa-Claus disguise. In gurgling verse at a galloping gait, we learn how the Grinch stole the "presents, the ribbons, the wrappings, the tags, the tinsel and trappings," from all the Who's. But the Grinch's heart (two sizes too small) melted just in time when he realized that the Who's enjoyed Christmas without any externals. Youngsters will be in transports over the goofy gaiety of Dr. Seuss's first book about a villain — easily the best Christmas-cad since Scrooge. Inimitable Seuss illustrations of the Grinch's dog Max disguised as a reindeer are in black and white with touches of red. Irrepressible and irresistible.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 1957

ISBN: 0394800796

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1957

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