The Potkoorok, Turongs and Nyols — those trick-playing spirits from aboriginal lore who helped save Sydney's Botanical Gardens from a parking lot developer in An Older Kind of Magic (KR, 1972), are less cooperative when the human hero's enemy is an ancient rocklike monster who shares the mythological creatures' displeasure with the crew from town that has begun to clear the ridge at Wongadilla. Simon Brent, newly orphaned and come to live on the remote sheep run with old Charlie Waters and his sister Edie, is amused when the mischievous spirits dump the grader into the pond one night and hide the bulldozer inside the mountain the next, but he is terrified by the angry howl of the primordial Norgun, recently arrived at the spot after a slow 80-year journey from his long-time home to the south. Unlike most grownups in juvenile fantasy, Charlie and Edie remember the "old Pot-K" and the Turongs from their childhood and totally accept Simon's assertion that that large mossy rock on the mountain is really a deeply menacing monster. The various elf-creatures, though agreeing that the Nargun does not belong there, are loth to cross him, but Charlie in an effort to drive the monster away manages to start up the muffler-less dozer inside the mountain — inducing instead a confrontation between rock and metal as the machine is wrecked and the Nargun trapped inside by an avalanche that seals up the cave's opening. Wrightson's considerable skill in managing texture and tension ensures that admirers of serious fantasy will breathe the air of Wongadill along with Simon, and to her credit the symbols and issues here represent a perspective more complex than is usual in fictional conflicts between technology and nature. But Simon's dreaded earth monster hardly justifies the author's overreaching attempt to make of him a timeless, literally star-shaking occasion for "naked pity" and "naked fear."

Pub Date: March 20, 1974

ISBN: 1846470765

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1974

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.


Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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