WILLIAM AND THE WITCH'S RIDDLE

An exciting, neatly crafted adventure.

There is more to the tale of “Sleeping Beauty” than has been told through the centuries.

William’s mother, Lirian, has been mysteriously gone for months. His father, Heldor, went for supplies days ago but did not return to their mountain home, leaving him alone with his little brother, Pinch. When Morga, the wicked, 13th witch of the familiar story, announces his father’s death and makes demands and threats, William is faced with a terrifying dilemma. In order to keep Pinch safe and find their mother, he must accomplish three tasks that Morga sets forth in a convoluted riddle, with the goal of getting a missing item that will give her ultimate power. But he is brave and determined, and he finds help along the way in the form of a guardian appointed by Morga’s 12 good sisters, a surprisingly astute mule, and Tuli, a size-shifting creature with a pet miniature dragon named Squarmy. William and readers both learn that Lirian is really Princess Bree, who married Heldor to live a simple life in hiding from Morga. William is a prince whose heroism will restore the right order of things. The characters are fully developed and are completely believable within the rules set by the genre. There is humor, heart-stopping action, magic of many sorts, and tender emotions of sacrifice, love, and loss. Crum draws readers into this evidently white fairy-tale world with detailed, descriptive language and inventive syntax.

An exciting, neatly crafted adventure. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93269-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

Close Quickview