A zany, over-the-top romp in the woods.


From the Wanda Seasongood series , Vol. 2

A misplaced sibling means more fantastical adventures for a girl just trying to do her best.

Newly 11-year-old Wanda is about to set off on another adventure into the Scary Wood, accompanied by her talking bluebird companion who fancies himself to be his namesake—Voltaire. Now that a spell has been lifted from her family, as recounted in Wanda Seasongood and the Mostly True Secret (2020), it’s revealed that she has an older sister named Wren, who’s being held captive by the evil witch Raymunda. Wanda was so small when Wren was taken that she doesn’t remember her, but that won’t stop Wanda from going to save her despite her parents’ blunt lack of faith in her capabilities. As before, “there’s no right or wrong way” in the Wood, since “they all lead to trouble.” Wanda and Voltaire face off against trolls, a giant, a banshee, fairies, a pooka, and the returning Royal Prince Frog, who pesters likely contenders for a kiss, all while avoiding Raymunda and her equally witchy sons. Structured much like Wanda’s first adventure, the episodic story features all the standard tropes of a fairy tale for modern sentimentalities. Lurie’s narrative is heavy-handed at times, emphasizing the ridiculousness of said tropes for comedic effect. Fairies and the witch family are multiracial while Wanda’s family presents white, with Wanda sporting bushy red hair, freckles, and brown glasses.

A zany, over-the-top romp in the woods. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-04322-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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