HAROUN AND THE SEA OF STORIES

Memorable bedtime story targeted for an audience as large as a bull's-eye on the side of a barn. The book is catalogued for January but will be shipped to bookstores in early November for Thanksgiving sales. Few readers will not find some tie between this story of a silenced father-storyteller and Rushdie's death sentence from the Ayatollah Khomeini—but it's a tie not stressed by the author. Perhaps the brightest aspect of the book is its bubbling good humor and witty dialogue, and then its often superb writing: "There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. It stood by a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy even though the skies were blue." (Alifbay, the glossary here tells us, comes from the Hindustani word for "alphabet.") The story: In the town of K, the Shah of Blah, Rashid Khalifa, a renowned storyteller and the father of Haroun, is deserted by his wife exactly at 11:00 a.m. and loses his power to tell stories. Haroun too loses the power to concentrate longer than 11 minutes. What's more, he insults his father's stories, calling them untrue, but then feels deep guilt for adding to his father's despair. In a P2C2E (a Process Too Complicated To Explain), it seems that most of Rashid's problems are part of the Great Story Sea becoming polluted and the Supplier of Story Water shutting down Rashid's supply. As a Water Genie explains to Haroun: "The gentleman no longer requires the service; has discontinued narrative activities, thrown in the towel, packed it in. He has cancelled his subscription: Hence my presence, for purposes of Disconnection." Which is the typical tumbling Rushdie jumpcat spoken by all and by Miss Blabbermouth, otherwise known as the Princess Batcheat Chattergy (batcheat= "baat-cheet" or chitchat), held prisoner in the Citadel of Chup, a castle built entirely of black ice. Parted from Rashid, Haroun on his own fights Khattum-Shud, who shuts down stories, and purifies the story waters in the Ocean of the Stream of Stories. A strong winner, though the storyline fades in and out of the prose—a fault that may pass unnoticed if the book's not read in one sitting.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0140157379

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granta/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1990

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more