A swashbuckling romp for lovers of history and magic.

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THE HATMAKERS

In her debut novel, British actor Merchant creates an elaborate fantasy world around a family of magical milliners.

Cordelia Hatmaker, almost 12, is smitten with grief at the apparent loss at sea of her beloved father. Despite the tragedy, Cordelia’s extended family members continue to fulfill their duties as Hatmakers to the Crown. Their hats are works of art, custom-made using rare ingredients to magically influence the moods and intentions of their wearers. The family’s present task is to create a Concentration Hat for the king, who turns out to be none other than England’s King George in full insanity mode. Cordelia’s compassion for others leads to friendship with a member of the archrival Bootmaker family as well as a street urchin named Sam. The friends work together to overthrow a complicated plot to wage war on France spearheaded by the dastardly Lord Witloof, who stands to profit from war by manufacturing cannons. This is an action-packed story with an appealing role model in feisty, determined Cordelia, who acquires confidence in fighting evil and protecting family and friends. Magical elements, complicated plot twists, and colorful characters will appeal to Philip Pullman and Harry Potter fans, although the subject matter is on the younger side for the reading level. A cliffhanger ending implies a sequel. All characters present White. Illustrations not seen.

A swashbuckling romp for lovers of history and magic. (glossary, note about ingredients) (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-01603-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

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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A quirky sci-fi adventure with a surprising layer of political irony.

WE'RE NOT FROM HERE

Who knew the survival of the human race would depend on fitting in at school?

With Earth destroyed, humans have successfully petitioned Planet Choom to take them in as refugees. Narrator Lan Mifune and their family (Lan is never gendered in the text) travel there, arriving to a surprise. During the 20-year journey in bio-suspension asleep, Choom’s government has changed, along with their acceptance of humans, and they are asked to leave immediately. With no other alternative, Lan’s mom, Amora Persaud, who’s on the ship’s Governing Council, is able to negotiate a trial run, in which the Mifune family will prove humans can peacefully assimilate. Being the new kid at school is tough anywhere, but on Choom, Lan must navigate the cultures of the werewolflike Kriks; Ororos, who resemble giant marshmallows; and the Zhuri, who resemble giant mosquitoes and express emotions by secreting specific scents. Things get complicated when the Zhuri government executes a smear campaign against humans even as some privately believe humans can be peaceful if given the chance. It’s up to Lan and their family to prove humans can contribute to society. Rodkey deftly mirrors recent debates about refugees and immigrants, twisting them into a black comedy–sci-fi mashup. Racial and ethnic diversity is purposely shown solely through names, hinting via surname that Lan’s family shares mixed Japanese and Indian heritage. The abrupt resolution might leave some in disbelief, but that’s a small price to pay.

A quirky sci-fi adventure with a surprising layer of political irony. (Science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7304-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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