Another clever, comical story filled with fairy-tale characters' teen progeny

NEXT TOP VILLAIN

From the Ever After High: A School Story series , Vol. 1

The Ever After High franchise begun by Shannon Hale with The Storybook of Legends (2013) continues with a new companion series and new author.

Ever After High student princess Duchess Swan (daughter of the Swan Queen) is proud of her perfect grades and smooth ballet moves, and she is trying to come to terms with the fact that she won't have a “Happily Ever After” life but is destined to become merely a swan, albeit a royal one. Her roommate, fellow princess Lizzie Hearts, is the daughter of the Queen of Hearts of Wonderland. Duchess envies Lizzie her confidence and her future, since her foretold destiny does include a happy ending. What's more, Daring Charming, the ultrahandsome blond prince and crush object of every girl in the school—including Duchess—has an unrequited thing for Lizzie. The actual plot is pushed forward as Lizzie, Duchess and a few more students in General Villainy class battle to reach the honor of becoming the titular “Next Top Villain.” As in the previous books, humor and puns (“What the hex?”) are generously sprinkled like fairy dust throughout the story. Garnering much of the humor here is Sparrow Hood, Robin Hood's laid-back, soul-patched son, who is constantly riffing (both guitar and jokes). Readers will be mystified and perhaps frustrated that Duchess is so gaga over the empty-headed, narcissistic prince, but perhaps she will come to her swan senses in the next installment.

Another clever, comical story filled with fairy-tale characters' teen progeny . (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-40128-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Nellie Bly’s contemporary namesake does her proud.

THE NEWSPAPER CLUB

From the Newspaper Club series , Vol. 1

Eleven-year-old Nellie’s investigative reporting leads her to solve a mystery, start a newspaper, and learn key lessons about growing up.

Nellie’s voice is frank and often funny—and always full of information about newspapers. She tells readers of the first meeting of her newspaper club and then says, “But maybe I’m burying the lede…what Dad calls it when a reporter puts the most interesting part…in the middle or toward the end.” (This and other journalism vocabulary is formally defined in a closing glossary.) She backtracks to earlier that summer, when she and her mother were newly moved into a house next to her mother’s best friend in rural Bear Creek, Maine. Nellie explains that the newspaper that employed both of her parents in “the city” had folded soon after her father left for business in Asia. When Bear Creek Park gets closed due to mysterious, petty crimes, Nellie feels compelled to investigate. She feels closest to her dad when on the park’s swings, and she is more comfortable interviewing adults than befriending peers. Getting to know a plethora of characters through Nellie’s eyes is as much fun as watching Nellie blossom. Although astute readers will have guessed the park’s vandalizers, they are rewarded by observing Nellie’s fact-checking process. A late revelation about Nellie’s father does not significantly detract from this fully realized story of a young girl adjusting admirably to new circumstances. Nellie and her mother present white; secondary characters are diverse.

Nellie Bly’s contemporary namesake does her proud. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9685-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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90 MILES TO HAVANA

After Castro’s takeover, nine-year-old Julian and his older brothers are sent away by their fearful parents via “Operation Pedro Pan” to a camp in Miami for Cuban-exile children. Here he discovers that a ruthless bully has essentially been put in charge. Julian is quicker-witted than his brothers or anyone else ever imagined, though, and with his inherent smarts, developing maturity and the help of child and adult friends, he learns to navigate the dynamics of the camp and surroundings and grows from the former baby of the family to independence and self-confidence. A daring rescue mission at the end of the novel will have readers rooting for Julian even as it opens his family’s eyes to his courage and resourcefulness. This autobiographical novel is a well-meaning, fast-paced and often exciting read, though at times the writing feels choppy. It will introduce readers to a not-so-distant period whose echoes are still felt today and inspire admiration for young people who had to be brave despite frightening and lonely odds. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

 

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59643-168-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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