Deliciously scary and satisfying.

READ REVIEW

THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY

A pinch of Grimm, a dash of Greek mythology and a heaping helping of fresh chills make for an irresistible contemporary fairy tale centering around a food enchantment.

A sparkling new school pops up in Lorelei’s neighborhood, and events conspire to make her and her brother enroll. Not that they resist—Splendid Academy has the most phenomenal playground they’ve ever seen, and Principal Trapp lets the kids run in the halls. As icing on the cake, food’s provided constantly, especially desserts. Everyone’s desk contains a magically refilling candy bowl, and the lunches and (oddly non-optional) breakfasts are succulent feasts. Rules barely exist; teachers balk only when a student doesn’t eat enough. Even at home, Lorelei awakens with “a sick, twisting hunger that felt like teeth chewing at my insides.” Readers familiar with "Hansel and Gretel" will smell the reason why these teachers push food. Lorelei is smart, but two obstacles block her: knowledge that “there [i]sn’t an adult in the world who would believe” the preposterous truth at the school’s core, and emotional baggage from her mother’s death a year ago. In clear, accessible prose with a sense of immediacy, Loftin smoothly melds Lorelei’s conviction that she’s “done something unforgivably evil” with the deadly danger hovering at school. Refreshingly, Lorelei’s learning disability (dysgraphia) is simply a fact of life, not a literary symbol.

Deliciously scary and satisfying. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59514-508-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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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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