In a well-realized medieval world, Jordan (The Secret Sacrament, 2001, etc.) introduces one small element of fantasy: the last dragon left on earth. Jude is no accomplished hero, but has a sort of bravery in him alongside a native intelligence and genuine kindness. After his village is destroyed by the dragon, Jude is taken in by Tybalt, who runs a sort of traveling sideshow that includes a Chinese woman with bound feet who is treated like a beast. Lizzie Little-legs and Jude gradually become friends and later partners in their quest to kill the last dragon. This beast has created great havoc in a drought summer, the fire spreading cruelly with entire village populations as victims. A sense of safety is provided by a narrative device that has Jude dictating to a monk long after all danger is over. Lizzie, whose actual name is Jing-wei, provides the knowledge of gunpowder and kites that are used to attack the dragon, as well as other Chinese innovations not yet common in England, such as silk and paper. Jing-wei consistently is the heroine, whose essential knowledge and determination make each step possible. Whether she will remain with Jude or try to return to her home country illustrates the tough choices of even involuntary immigrants and provides some additional suspense. Jordan creates an appealing and sedate romance in an unusual place and time for younger readers than her usual, more complex work. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-028902-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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Weak writing ruins a nicely structured integration of Arthurian legend with a Grimm’s fairy tale. Rowena’s locked up with her 11 sisters because her father’s afraid that they’ll disappear like their mother, Vivienne, the Lady of the Lake. Each night they disappear underground, where dancing destroys their elegant slippers. Elsewhere, Sir Bedivere promises a dying King Arthur to return Excalibur to Vivienne. Bedivere and Rowena share reciprocal mystical visions in which they fall in love. The sisters’ nightly dancing, as well as their goal of finding their lost mother, leads to the same enchanted underground lake as Bedivere’s task of honor. Details of “Twelve Dancing Princesses” are skillfully woven in with the Camelot plot; however, the text is cluttered with modifiers, the narration is unsubtle and trite and the workings of magic are shallow. Instead, see Vivian Vande Velde’s Book of Mordred (July 2005) and Dia Calhoun’s Phoenix Dance (October 2005). (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-4169-0579-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2005

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From the Nola's Worlds series

Bubble-gum–tinged whimsy abounds in this stylish French graphic-novel import. Cotton-candy–tressed Nola spends her days dreaming in her peaceful town, Alta Donna. Her world is cozy and ordinary until she meets the aloof and mysterious Damiano and Inés. Nola quickly learns that there are strange forces after the siblings and is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. Nola and her friends radiate a funky fashion sense, constantly changing clothes and hairstyles; it’s hard to imagine a reader who wouldn’t want to raid her closet. This first installment propels forward with the force of a rocket—albeit a very pink, fanciful one. Luckily for the ravenous reader, the whole trilogy releases simultaneously (#2, Ferrets and Ferreting Out, PLB: 978-0-7613-6504-4; #3, Even for a Dreamer Like Me, PLB: 978-0-7613-6505-1). Though it's a fantastic visual experience, the actual plot is thin; even as Nola delves into the mystery in the subsequent volumes, the narrative never really gains any degree of complexity. However, with its upbeat palette (courtesy of Pop), manga-inspired art and hip characters, this charmer is sure to please preteen girls. (Graphic fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6538-9

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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