CHARLIE AND THE GREAT GLASS ELEVATOR

In a perfectly silly and pointlessly tastless sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mr. Willie Wonka's glass elevator goes into orbit carrying Charlie, his parents, his grandparents, and the bed that three of the grandparents haven't left for 20 years. They stop at a new U.S. Space Hotel causing panic back at the White House, where an illiterate President who tells knock-knock jokes thinks they are Martians and a broad-typed Chief of the Army wants to blow them up "crash bang wallop bang-bang-bang-bang-bang." But when a horde of greenish, shapeless creatures called "vermicious knids" starts emerging from the space hotel's elevators, the humans hop back to earth in their knid-proof glass one, towing a crew of terrified astronauts along. In the reaches of space fiction where anything goes, Mr. Dahl's inventions are old hat, and about all that ensues back at the factory is the grandparents' excessive rejuvenation (one of them is even "minused"), overcompensating aging, and Ultimate return to the status quo ante by swallowing alternate doses of Vita-Wonk and Wonka-Vite. They are finally lured from their beds by an invitation from the White House (a reward for rescuing the astronauts) and even Charlie himself exits dancing with glee, never questioning the privilege involved in visiting those previously caricatured idiots. With humor that depends on gratuitous references to the President's pottie or the results of a very strong laxative, with the Oompa-Loompas still fetching and carrying, this has all the faults that disturbed grown-ups and none of the inspired outrageousness that attracted children to its predecessor.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1972

ISBN: 0375815252

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1972

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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.

THE ICKABOG

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 gripping, atmospheric tale of sorcery, secrets, and sisterhood, infused with the titular pinch of magic.

A PINCH OF MAGIC

From the Pinch of Magic series , Vol. 1

When an ancient curse threatens her life and the lives of her sisters, Betty Widdershins seeks a way to break it.

Adventurous, 13-year-old Betty and her two sisters—Fliss, elder, and Charlie, younger—all live on the island of Crowstone in a decrepit village inn operated by their grandmother Bunny, who has always been strangely reluctant to let her granddaughters go anywhere. After Betty’s abortive attempt to surreptitiously leave Crowstone, Bunny reveals the family secret: All Widdershins girls have been under a curse for over 150 years. If one ever leaves Crowstone, she will die by the next sunset. Bunny gives Fliss a mirror, Betty nesting dolls, and Charlie a traveling bag, each containing a different magical power, to use if they need to hide or escape quickly. Intent on altering their fate, the sisters accidentally trigger the curse by leaving Crowstone while helping a young stranger escape from prison. For heroine Betty, who has “spent her life wishing for bigger things,” the imminent threat of losing her sisters proves life-changing. Facing death by the end of the day, Betty must rely on the magical objects, her sisters, and clever thinking to uncover the origins of the Widdershins curse while simultaneously confronting a rapid-fire series of perilous plot twists, betrayals, and shocking revelations in an effort to remake her family history. Betty and her family appear to be white.

A gripping, atmospheric tale of sorcery, secrets, and sisterhood, infused with the titular pinch of magic. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-19331-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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