Complicated, retrograde, and very sparkly.


From the Star Darlings series , Vol. 1

A new student at the academy for Wish-Granters joins a specially selected group for secret missions.

After opening pages consisting of short profiles of the 12 students that the series will follow, the story begins with Sage’s arrival at Starling Academy, the prestigious school where Starlings learn to travel to the Wishworld (implied Earth) to harness positive energy by granting Wishlings’ wishes. Further exposition (clumsily framed with “As every Starling knows,” “As we all know,” and “As everyone knows”) attempts to explain the elaborate wish mechanics. During orientation, Sage is selected with 11 others for a secret meeting. The headmistress tells them about Starland’s energy crisis and that she’s experimenting with sending student visitors to Wishworld in an attempt to drastically increase the levels of positive energy. She has selected this group of students to be the Star Darlings. The already-convoluted world’s mechanics further complicate with the revelation of a prophecy. Soon Sage gets the honor of the first trip to Wishworld to fulfill a wish, which is difficult, as she must correctly identify both the wisher and the specific wish. Humor arises from her incomplete education on Wishworld culture and tension, from the mission’s near-failure. While some readers will appreciate the constant clothing descriptions and glittery references, many will be left cold by the heroine’s insistence that science and math are boring.

Complicated, retrograde, and very sparkly. (Fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-6643-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...


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

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With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.


From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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