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A lighthearted book that blends magic with earthly themes and the loftier nature of all things.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Waterland presents an episodic children’s book about magical people, magical creatures, and grand life lessons.

While looking for amethyst crystals in Tree Forest, an accident causes magic-using fairy Auntie Hoolahoop to lose a wing and go falling through the clouds before landing under the nose of Mrs. Grupple, a sleeping yellow dog on Redbush Ranch. Luckily, her niece Quizzle, her friend Pinky Palm—an “everyanimal,” who is seen by others as a reflection of themselves —and Dragonfly and Hummingbird ensure everyone’s safe return home. The following summer, it’s time for Quizzle’s “flying up party” and she’s nervous about her command of her fairy wings. Pinky’s ordered a special present for Quizzle: a guardian angel named Titania with a magical whistle. A reassuring look from Pinky gives Quizzle the confidence she needs, and she flies into the party, then up and away through the ozone layer: “The Earth was as one body, populated with perfect little beings….Indeed, like waves in an ocean, they were each a different expression of the same thing—love.” On Halloween night, Wag the witch, angry that she wasn’t invited to Quizzle’s party, kidnaps Quizzle and Titania. The pair are terrified and lost in a dark tunnel until Quizzle remembers Titania’s whistle, which gives her some hope, and her fear decreases: “As their faith grew, the wicked witch began to shrink.” The creatures of this world are shown to learn things through experience, and a clear philosophy of love, empathy, and the mysteries of life connects each episode of the book. Pinky’s empathetic nature and his love for Quizzle lead him to find a new “me” identity without compromising his everyanimal abilities. Heyman’s black-and-white drawings with occasional colorful full-page illustrations ably decorate the narrative, which spans an entire year. Waterland’s prose features occasional cheeky rhymes, moments of humor, and detailed characterization—even of trees in the forest. No character is portrayed as completely evil; antagonists’ vulnerabilities are revealed, and foes often turn to friends.

A lighthearted book that blends magic with earthly themes and the loftier nature of all things.

Pub Date: June 19, 2023


Page Count: 145

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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