The charming, comforting, and enjoyable tale of a magical girl discovering her (family and hair) roots


A 10-year-old girl with “hearing-before-hearing” discovers the truth about her powers and her absentee dad.

Penelope loves living with her mother and Granny Elizabeth in their little house on the outskirts of the swamp forest. In their seemingly all-white village, Penelope stands out: She has gray hair, she smells like fire, and she sometimes answers questions she hasn’t yet been asked. But one evening, after Penelope’s mother has spent several weeks in the hospital following a bad traffic accident, just before falling asleep, Penelope notices she doesn’t smell fire—and when she wakes up, her hair is bright red. Penelope learns her mother has been painting her hair gray with some kind of paste to protect her, and it has something to do with her long-vanished father. He also had red hair, and he could do a little magic. But he walked out on them when she was a baby, and now he’s stopped sending money. Slightly surreal touches that include a talking road keep the action light. Penelope’s concern with color extends not just to the magic of hair color or morose gray envelopes, but to the everyday: her house, speckled red and green like a dragon; a blue shoelace; a bottle-green dress. It’s a cheerfully childlike perspective, adding warmth even when Penelope is angry or frightened.

The charming, comforting, and enjoyable tale of a magical girl discovering her (family and hair) roots . (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-54061-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Dizzyingly silly.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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