From the Poppy Pendle series

Amusing, if a little clunky.

Eleven-year-old witch Della Dupree must muster all her courage when she’s stranded in the 13th century.

If only Della were brave enough to stand up against the school bullies. But Della knows that if she does, the mean girls will turn on her next. It’s already hard enough to share a name with the famous Della Dupree, who founded Ruthersfield Academy in 1223 to educate witches. Della lives in a Britain where nonmagical people know about and love witches, and her own nonwitchy family is supportive. But what if Della were to travel back in time to meet the historic Della, and what if she were to learn what it’s like to live in a time when witches are hated and feared? Della’s soon stranded in 1223, having lost the magical necklace that enabled her spur-of-the-moment illicit jaunt into the past. As Lowe writes it, history smells atrocious and features hideous food—one particularly “nasty pottage” prompts Della to make a quick magical lasagna, and a disgusting pheasant stew leads her to magic up a chicken curry—but the witch girls Della meets are lovely. She just wishes she were brave enough to save them from the dungeon. In the mildly anachronistic past of her apparently all-white village of Potts Bottom, Della finds her spunk. Slightly awkward prose with odd explanatory asides distracts from both humor and pacing, but scenes in which these medieval characters first experience modern food are mouthwatering.

Amusing, if a little clunky. (recipes, crafts) (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4367-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020


From the First Cat in Space series , Vol. 2

Fans of unbridled, melodramatic tomfoolery will be over the moon.

A taste of poisoned soup spurs the Queen of the Moon and her feline companion into embarking on a quest for a curative fruit from the orbiting orb’s only golden glumpfoozle tree.

In further exploits attended by the monosyllabic, spacesuit-clad titular feline (“Meow”), Harris and Barnett bring back the cast of The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza (2022), from diaper-wearing buccaneer Captain Babybeard to computerized toenail clipper LOZ 4000, for a lunar ramble past a pair of mysterious killbots, Psychic Flying Eyeballs of Death, and other hazards. Depicted in rolling arrays of changing palettes and panel sizes and led by the opalescent Queen of the Moon—who, ignoring her loudly rumbling tummy, stoutly declares that “my reign will not be cut short by soup”—the expedition fetches up at last on the edge of a bottomless crater for a last-minute save, appropriately over-the-top grandstanding by a familiar AI with futile protagonistic ambitions (“How many pages did I get this time? 73?”), and a closing celebratory soupfest, depicted Last Supper–style by a vermiform da Vinci. This volume continues the nonstop madcap fun; returning readers will not be disappointed, and new ones will quickly become avid followers of the world’s first feline astronaut.

Fans of unbridled, melodramatic tomfoolery will be over the moon. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9780063084117

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023


From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 3

A fine emotional stretch within reach of the intended audience.

When siblings Jessie and Evan (The Lemonade War, 2007, and The Lemonade Crime, 2011) accompany their mother on the time-honored midwinter holiday visit to their grandmother’s home in the mountains, the changes are alarming.

Fire damage to the house and Grandma’s inability to recognize Evan are as disquieting as the disappearance of the iron bell, hung long ago by their grandmother on Lowell Hill and traditionally rung at the New Year. Davies keeps a tight focus on the children: Points of view switch between Evan, with his empathetic and emotional approach to understanding his world, and Jessie, for whom routine is essential and change a puzzle to be worked out. When Grandma ventures out into the snow just before twilight, it is Evan who realizes the danger and manages to find a way to rescue her. Jessie, determined to solve the mystery of the missing bell, enlists the help of Grandma's young neighbor Maxwell, with his unusual habitual gestures and his surprising ability to solve jigsaw puzzles. She is unprepared, however, for the terror of seeing the neighbor boys preparing a mechanical torture device to tear a live frog to pieces. Each of the siblings brings a personal resilience and heroism to the resolution.

A fine emotional stretch within reach of the intended audience. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-56737-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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