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

WANDA SEASONGOOD AND THE ALMOST PERFECT LIE

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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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

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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A gripping, atmospheric tale of sorcery, secrets, and sisterhood, infused with the titular pinch of magic.

A PINCH OF MAGIC

From the Pinch of Magic series , Vol. 1

When an ancient curse threatens her life and the lives of her sisters, Betty Widdershins seeks a way to break it.

Adventurous, 13-year-old Betty and her two sisters—Fliss, elder, and Charlie, younger—all live on the island of Crowstone in a decrepit village inn operated by their grandmother Bunny, who has always been strangely reluctant to let her granddaughters go anywhere. After Betty’s abortive attempt to surreptitiously leave Crowstone, Bunny reveals the family secret: All Widdershins girls have been under a curse for over 150 years. If one ever leaves Crowstone, she will die by the next sunset. Bunny gives Fliss a mirror, Betty nesting dolls, and Charlie a traveling bag, each containing a different magical power, to use if they need to hide or escape quickly. Intent on altering their fate, the sisters accidentally trigger the curse by leaving Crowstone while helping a young stranger escape from prison. For heroine Betty, who has “spent her life wishing for bigger things,” the imminent threat of losing her sisters proves life-changing. Facing death by the end of the day, Betty must rely on the magical objects, her sisters, and clever thinking to uncover the origins of the Widdershins curse while simultaneously confronting a rapid-fire series of perilous plot twists, betrayals, and shocking revelations in an effort to remake her family history. Betty and her family appear to be white.

A gripping, atmospheric tale of sorcery, secrets, and sisterhood, infused with the titular pinch of magic. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-19331-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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