A cute story with a few leaps in logic.

Imagine wanting to be a fashion designer when your mother is the actual Sleeping Beauty who fell asleep under a spell for 100 years after pricking her finger on a spindle.

Middle schooler Aria Thornbrier is the fashion-conscious daughter of Sleeping Beauty, but her mom forbids her to sew, as she believes that Aria may prick her finger and suffer the same fate. Defying her mother’s needle phobia and determined to become a fashion designer, Aria secretly joins the school’s new Couture Club. Wearing one of her designs while on an outing with her fashion classmates, Aria is noticed by a talent scout who recruits her to audition for the reality TV show Teen Couture. Aria becomes a contestant, but predictably, soon into the competition, she pricks her finger and falls under a spell—not one that puts her to sleep, however, but that compels her to speak only in Shakespearean dialect, or Shakespeak. With very little time, she must figure out who cast the spell, as her new language will ruin her chances of winning Teen Couture. Assuming her readers’ familiarity with the Grimms, Littman jumps right in with characters from European fairy tales who somehow live in modern-day New York. Although she never quite explains how Sleeping Beauty’s family arrived in the 21st century, young aspiring fashionistas will enjoy this junior version of Project Runway.

A cute story with a few leaps in logic. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5130-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017


The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952


Certain to steal hearts.

In this follow-up to 2020’s The One and Only Bob, Ruby the elephant is still living at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary.

She’s apprehensive about her Tuskday, a rite of passage for young elephants when she’ll give a speech in front of the rest of the herd. Luckily, she can confide in her Uncle Ivan, who is next door in Gorilla World, and Uncle Bob, the dog who lives nearby with human friend Julia. Ruby was born in an unspecified part of Africa, later ending up on display in the mall, where she met Ivan, Bob, and Julia. The unexpected arrival of someone from Ruby’s past life on the savanna revives memories both warmly nostalgic and deeply traumatic. An elephant glossary and Castelao’s charming, illustrated guide to elephant body language help immerse readers in Ruby’s world. Goofy, playful, and mischievous Ruby is fully dimensional, as she has shown her bravery during the many hardships of her young life. Applegate deftly tempers themes of grief and loss with compassion and humor as Ruby finds her place in the herd. The author’s note touches on climate change, the illegal ivory trade, and conservation efforts, but the highly emotive framing of the story through the memories of a bewildered baby elephant emphasizes the impact of lines such as “ ‘in Africa,’ I say softly, ‘there were bad people,’ ” without offering readers a nuanced understanding of the broader context that drives poaching.

Certain to steal hearts. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780063080089

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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