ROWAN HOOD

OUTLAW GIRL OF SHERWOOD FOREST

The legendary archer inspires a worthy daughter in a lightweight fantasy. Thirteen-year-old Rosemary lives content until her wood-wife mother is murdered as a witch. Disguised as a boy, Rowan, she sets off in search of Robin Hood, the father she never knew. After running afoul of the villainous Guy of Gisborn, she gains an assortment of misfit companions—Tykell, a half-breed wolf-dog; Lionel, a petulant giant minstrel; and Ettarde, a runaway princess—and the enigmatic assistance of her elfin kinfolk. Robin himself turns out to be both her heart’s desire and a disappointment; he offers Ro a place in his band, but fails to recognize her as his child, and she is simultaneously daunted and repelled by the outlaw life. While rejecting Robin’s methods, Ro and her friends still accomplish a daring rescue when he is captured; and the revelation of Ro’s parentage allows her to accept her heritage and her future. Springer, acclaimed for her Arthurian retellings (I Am Morgan Le Fay, p. 58, etc.), presents a sanitized Sherwood Forest, with minimal menace or discomfort. All violence occurs neatly offstage, and Ro’s mysterious conception is explained so elliptically as to elude most young readers. Springer’s pantheistic mysticism may baffle some, and her critique of hierarchical authority will undoubtedly sail over their heads. Still, if Robin is a one-dimensional wish fulfillment of the perfect father, Ro herself is an appealing heroine, both compassionate and strong; and her story will leave adventurous girls eager for the inevitable sequel. A pleasant trifle. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23368-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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GATHERING BLUE

From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 2

Lowry returns to the metaphorical future world of her Newbery-winning The Giver (1993) to explore the notion of foul reality disguised as fair. Born with a twisted leg, Kira faces a bleak future after her mother dies suddenly, leaving her without protection. Despite her gift for weaving and embroidery, the village women, led by cruel, scarred Vandara, will certainly drive the lame child into the forest, where the “beasts” killed her father, or so she’s been told. Instead, the Council of Guardians intervenes. In Kira’s village, the ambient sounds of voices raised in anger and children being slapped away as nuisances quiets once a year when the Singer, with his intricately carved staff and elaborately embroidered robe, recites the tale of humanity’s multiple rises and falls. The Guardians ask Kira to repair worn historical scenes on the Singer’s robe and promise her the panels that have been left undecorated. Comfortably housed with two other young orphans—Thomas, a brilliant wood-carver working on the Singer’s staff, and tiny Jo, who sings with an angel’s voice—Kira gradually realizes that their apparent freedom is illusory, that their creative gifts are being harnessed to the Guardians’ agenda. And she begins to wonder about the deaths of her parents and those of her companions—especially after the seemingly hale old woman who is teaching her to dye expires the day after telling her there really are no beasts in the woods. The true nature of her society becomes horribly clear when the Singer appears for his annual performance with chained, bloody ankles, followed by Kira’s long-lost father, who, it turns out, was blinded and left for dead by a Guardian. Next to the vividly rendered supporting cast, the gentle, kindhearted Kira seems rather colorless, though by electing at the end to pit her artistic gift against the status quo instead of fleeing, she does display some inner stuff. Readers will find plenty of material for thought and discussion here, plus a touch of magic and a tantalizing hint (stay sharp, or you’ll miss it) about the previous book’s famously ambiguous ending. A top writer, in top form. (author’s note) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-618-05581-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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