THE CRYSTAL PRISON

Redwall meets Goosebumps in the middle of the Deptford Mice Trilogy. Frivolous young Audrey is assigned to accompany the rat fortune-teller Madame Akkikuyu, who lost her wits after confronting the sinister Jupiter, and now fantasizes that Audrey is her best friend. Audrey, her brother Arthur, and their friend the fieldmouse, Twit, escort Akkikuyu to Fennywolde, Twit’s rural home. But this once-idyllic enclave is now terrorized by a barn owl’s predations, and dispirited by the puritanical ranting of Isaac Nettle, devotee of the Green Mouse. While Akkikuyu’s bravery and healing potions win the hearts of the Fennywolders, Audrey’s city ways earn sniffs of disapproval. As corn shrivels in the heat, and a mysterious murderer stalks the night, dislike turns to suspicion and to mob hysteria. Only the tragic sacrifices of two unlikely heroes save Audrey from lynching and free Fennywolde from a lurking evil. Like its predecessor (The Dark Portal, 2000), this is a terrific page-turner, drenched in foreboding atmosphere and punctuated with grisly discoveries and sinister revelations. If only Jarvis could write memorable characters! The Fennywolders never develop beyond caricatures of vanity, nobility, fanaticism, etc.; even the personalities of Audrey and Akkikuyu seem driven arbitrarily by the demands of the plot. Not that fans will care—not when they can indulge in delicious shudders at the evil spirit Nicodemus’s lurid whispering, the abusive Nettle’s vicious ravings, and (best of all) the veiled prophetic hints of even darker manifestations to come. Shivery good fun. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58717-107-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: SeaStar/North-South

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2001

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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