A rare tale that values brains over brawn—light, bright, and handsomely tricked out.

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ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS

Lavish use of black and silver ink, plus Riddell’s larger-than-life figures, adds swash aplenty to this new edition of Gaiman’s 2009 spin on a Norse myth, originally illustrated by Brett Helquist.

The whimsical story remains as it was: a crushed leg banishes half-Scottish Odd from his Viking village but proves no handicap to freeing Asgard from an aggrieved Frost Giant’s siege and enchantments. Posed at start and finish in a flowing cape with a thin braid hanging stylishly past one ear, the white lad cuts an intrepid figure in the pictures amid sundry gods transformed into animals, lissome maidens and goddesses, huge and hairy giants with truly heroic schnozzes, and magnificent Nordic battlements. These are all rendered in pen and ink with microscopic precision and are generally placed within broad, shiny, decorated borders. As far as the text is concerned, there is nothing to choose between this and the earlier edition. Still, Riddell fans, Gaiman completists, and general readers fond of the similarly formatted The Sleeper and the Spindle (2015) will pick it up.

A rare tale that values brains over brawn—light, bright, and handsomely tricked out. (Fantasy. 8 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-256795-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2016

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TRISTAN STRONG DESTROYS THE WORLD

From the Tristan Strong series , Vol. 2

Tristan Strong is back in this sequel to Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (2019).

A month’s passed since rising eighth grader Tristan’s first adventure in Alke, the world where African American folktale heroes are gods who live alongside African deities. Tristan’s now an Anansesem, “a carrier and spreader of stories,” and after the Shamble Man, a new foe, kidnaps his grandmother and takes her back to Alke, he follows, determined to rescue her. Tristan heads off on an adventure that will challenge his reluctant hero-ness (realistically, this aspect of his character hasn’t changed) and force him to reckon with the truth: Though he saved Alke, he was also the reason Alke was in danger in the first place. Fans of the first book will cheer the return of old friends, like capable, reliable Ayanna; the ever quippy Gum Baby (who steals the show, as per usual); and cellphone-bound trickster Anansi, and appreciate the new characters. The ending is nothing short of earth-shattering, promising a fascinating next entry. Well-paced—just like the previous installment—this sequel focuses on themes such as the meaning of diaspora and the effects of trauma, making for a more nuanced and stronger story than the first. The human characters are Black with varying shades of brown skin.

Packs a punch. (map) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-04238-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action.

THE SILVER ARROW

The best birthday present is a magical train full of talking animals—and a new job.

On Kate’s 11th birthday, she’s surprised by the arrival of rich Uncle Herbert. Uncle Herbert bears a gift: a train. Not a toy train, a 102.36-ton steam engine, with cars that come later. When Kate and her brother, Tom, both white, play in the cab of the Silver Arrow, the train starts up, zooming to a platform packed with animals holding tickets. Thus begins Kate and Tom’s hard work: They learn to conduct the train and feed the fire box, instructed by the Silver Arrow, which speaks via printed paper tape. The Silver Arrow is a glorious playground: The library car is chockablock with books while the candy car is brimful of gobstoppers and gummy bears. But amid the excitement of whistle-blowing and train conducting, Kate and Tom learn quiet messages from their animal friends. Some species, like gray squirrels and starlings, are “invaders.” The too-thin polar bear’s train platform has melted, leaving it almost drowned. Their new calling is more than just feeding the coal box—they need to find a new balance in a damaged world. “Feeling guilty doesn’t help anything,” the mamba tells them. Humans have survived so effectively they’ve taken over the world; now, he says, “you just have to take care of it.” (Illustrations not seen.)

Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53953-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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