Lovely but overwritten.

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THE DREAM

From the The Rahtrum Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A young caribou blessed with the ability to see beyond what the other members of his herd can is given a dangerous task that can change the course of nature.

Charged with waking the spirits of humans, who in their slumber have forgotten their connection to nature, young Bou must travel deep into the Arctic Canadian wilderness to find a sacred plant. All manner of forest and magical creatures assist him in his quest. Gnomes, trolls, fairies, eagles, and wolves give all that they have, even their own lives and those they love, to help him succeed. But a terrible enemy also walks the path, hoping to take the power of the mystical Breschuvine for himself. Lyrical prose and lush description depict a world where nature and magic intersect. And while it is clear that evil and good exist in the woods, it is also evident that the world is a dangerous place and death is an inevitable part of life. Bou is a likable protagonist, but slow pacing as well as frequent moments where the descriptive writing overwhelms the story, forcing it into the background, hobble this tale. Substantial paragraphs of sensory-rich prose describing seasonal transitions or the terrain Bou navigates are impressive, but too often they act as roadblocks to the action rather than resting places. The environmental message is subtle but effective.

Lovely but overwritten. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-92708-337-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Fifth House

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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CHANGING MOON

From the Nola's Worlds series

Bubble-gum–tinged whimsy abounds in this stylish French graphic-novel import. Cotton-candy–tressed Nola spends her days dreaming in her peaceful town, Alta Donna. Her world is cozy and ordinary until she meets the aloof and mysterious Damiano and Inés. Nola quickly learns that there are strange forces after the siblings and is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. Nola and her friends radiate a funky fashion sense, constantly changing clothes and hairstyles; it’s hard to imagine a reader who wouldn’t want to raid her closet. This first installment propels forward with the force of a rocket—albeit a very pink, fanciful one. Luckily for the ravenous reader, the whole trilogy releases simultaneously (#2, Ferrets and Ferreting Out, PLB: 978-0-7613-6504-4; #3, Even for a Dreamer Like Me, PLB: 978-0-7613-6505-1). Though it's a fantastic visual experience, the actual plot is thin; even as Nola delves into the mystery in the subsequent volumes, the narrative never really gains any degree of complexity. However, with its upbeat palette (courtesy of Pop), manga-inspired art and hip characters, this charmer is sure to please preteen girls. (Graphic fiction. 9-12)



Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6538-9

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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Emily’s motives turn out to be little more than a pretext, but the author delivers another clever, suspenseful drama in the...

DEADLY PINK

Vande Velde again traps teenagers inside an authentically depicted arcade game—but here she works twists into the premise that are both amusing and crank up the danger.

As in User Unfriendly (1991) and Heir Apparent (2002), the game, called “The Land of Golden Butterflies,” is manufactured by the shadowy Rasmussem Corp. and is fully immersive, fed directly into the brain through electrodes. Into this game 14-year-old Grace Pizzelli’s big sister Emily has gone; moreover, she has refused to come out and altered the code so she can’t be forcibly ejected. As sessions that run longer than a few hours cause brain damage and death, the corporation desperately turns to Grace to follow Emily in and persuade her to leave. Reluctantly agreeing, Grace discovers to her disgust that, rather than offering the usual heroic-fantasy or science-fiction setting, this digital world has been colored in pinks and lavenders. It is stocked with (supposedly) benign magical creatures and hunky male servitors—in general, it seems designed to cater to 10-year-old would-be princesses. The idyll has gone sour, though, because thanks to Emily’s fiddling, not only have the wish-granting sprites turned nasty, but the game’s governing Artificial Intelligence has changed the Rules—disabling the “Quit” function and forcing both Grace and her already-failing sister to embark on a seemingly hopeless quest with their real lives at stake.

Emily’s motives turn out to be little more than a pretext, but the author delivers another clever, suspenseful drama in the digital domain. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-73850-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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