The themes of facing fears and questioning authority are laudable, but even a feisty disabled narrator on a flying horse...

OVER THE MOON

A girl with a missing arm must question everything she knows to save her brother.

The poverty-stricken citizens of Coal Top, high atop Forgotten Mountain, must “live the stories [they’re] given.” Once upon a time, Weavers wove wonderful dreams from starlight—until clouds of mood-darkening Dust blotted the stars. Now, by order of the ruling, all-male Guardians, boys must labor in the mines Down Below, and girls become maids for rich valley families. But 12-year-old Mallie Ramble, a self-described “fire-popper in a glass jar” with an orange prosthetic arm (a “universal color” that matches no one’s actual skin tone), vows to save her sweet-as-pie little brother from laboring Down Below to pay the Rambles’ debts. With remarkable luck, Mallie joins a group of “brave and wiry young fellers” invited to risk their lives on flying horses for chances at “riches untold.” Her realistic self-consciousness must become self-confidence, however, when she discovers a nefarious plot. Despite occasionally lyrical turns of phrase, Lloyd ultimately leaves little for readers to imagine. Heroes are as distinct from villains as starlight is from Dust; the simplistic contrast of pure good and pure evil turns the ending trite and cloyingly sweet. Though Mallie says she’s “met all kinds of people, who look all kinds of different ways,” racial distinctions are largely unspoken; a gender-nonconforming secondary character with two different-colored eyes is 3 feet tall.

The themes of facing fears and questioning authority are laudable, but even a feisty disabled narrator on a flying horse can’t quite soar over their heavy-handed execution. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-11849-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet adventure and a paean to imagination and childhood innocence.

THE LAND OF ROAR

From the Land of Roar series , Vol. 1

A fantasy world comes to life and lures its young creators back into it in this imaginative middle-grade debut and U.K. import.

Narrator Arthur always loved playing make-believe in Grandad’s attic with his twin sister, Rose. Years ago they dreamed up Roar, a magical land that they entered via an old fold-up cot that acted as a portal. Now that they are 11 and starting school at Langdon Academy, Rose has new friends and wants nothing to do with her brother or their imaginary world. Rose may be done with Roar, but it’s not finished with her. When their grandfather is kidnapped and taken into Roar, Arthur and Rose must team up to mount a rescue mission. McLachlan does an excellent job of establishing the sibling tension before introducing the fantasy elements, and Rose’s desire to grow up and fit in feels as familiar and accessible as Arthur’s yearning to remain a child. While obviously reminiscent of classic fantasy, this narrative’s sheer inventiveness marks it as distinct. The twins’ widowed grandfather, a larger-than-life jokester from Mauritius, is a Peter Pan–like figure whose abduction brings the narrative into Roar, allowing the text and Mantle’s illustrations to go wild with creativity. The use of a wordless double-page spread to depict Arthur’s arrival into the fantasy realm is particularly inventive. Arthur and Rose are depicted as kids of color.

A sweet adventure and a paean to imagination and childhood innocence. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-298271-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

Did you like this book?

more