HOW THE LIBRARY (NOT THE PRINCE) SAVED RAPUNZEL

There’s plenty of hair flair and fun, if not quite so much logic.

Take a popular fairy tale, modernize it and make the princess a sassy lass who refuses to let her hair down, and you have a nifty fairy-tale twist with a library message.

“On the sixteenth floor of a tall tower block / sat Rapunzel, quite idle, whilst growing her locks.” The milkman calls up, “The lift is not working, the stairs are too steep / my asthma is bad and my heart is too weak.” But Rapunzel refuses to let down her hair for him or the postman, the baker, her aunt and even the prince! She just sits passively, so each visitor goes away. Worried that they are neglecting her due to their reluctance to climb 15 flights of stairs, the troupe gathers together and soldiers up to the 16th floor to cook Rapunzel supper and deliver a letter. “Rapunzel leapt up and shouted with glee: / ‘I’ve got a new job at the library!’ ” So begins her love affair with library books and the discovery that “there’s more to life than growing your hair!” (The question of how she gathered the wherewithal to apply for the job is not addressed.) The bouncy illustrations match the whimsy. Rapunzel’s hair is wildly curly and red; the prince arrives on a scooter wearing a helmet, black goatee and shades; the cast is multiethnic. The rhymes give lilt to the tale. (Two British terms, “lift” and “spanner,” are used for elevator and wrench, but this doesn’t get in the way of the fun.)

There’s plenty of hair flair and fun, if not quite so much logic. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-84780-432-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

CAPTAIN AWESOME TO THE RESCUE!

From the Captain Awesome series , Vol. 1

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

The town of Sunnyview got a little bit safer when 8-year-old Eugene McGillicudy moved in.

Just like his comic-book mentor, Super Dude, Eugene, aka Captain Awesome, is on a one-man mission is to save the world from supervillains, like the nefarious “Queen Stinkypants from Planet Baby.” Just as Eugene suspected, plenty of new supervillains await him at Sunnyview Elementary. Are Meredith Mooney and the mind-reading Ms. Beasley secretly working together to try and force Eugene to reveal his secret identity? Will Principal Brick Foot succeed in throwing Captain Awesome into the “Dungeon of Detention?” Fortunately, Eugene isn’t forced to go it alone. Charlie Thomas Jones, fellow comic-book lover and Super Dude fan, stands ready and willing to help. When the class hamster goes missing, Captain Awesome must don his cape and, with the help of his new best friend, ride to the rescue. Kirby’s funny and engaging third-person narration and O’Connor’s hilarious illustrations make the book easily accessible and enormously appealing, particularly to readers who have recently graduated to chapter books. But it is the quirky, mischievous Eugene that really makes this book special. His energy and humor are contagious, and his dogged commitment to his superhero alter ego is enough to make anyone a believer.  

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4090-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

THE LOST STONE

From the The Kingdom of Wrenly series , Vol. 1

A gentle adventure that sets the stage for future quests.

A lonely prince gains a friend for a quest to find a missing jewel.

Prince Lucas of Wrenly has everything a boy could possibly want—except a friend. His father has forbidden him to play with the village children for reasons of propriety. Adventure-seeking Lucas acquires peasant clothes to masquerade as a commoner and make friends, but he is caught out. His mother, the queen, persuades the king to allow him one friend: Clara, the daughter of her personal dressmaker. When the queen’s prized emerald pendant goes missing, Lucas and Clara set off to find it. They follow the jewel as it changes hands, interviewing each temporary owner. Their adventure cleverly introduces the series’ world and peoples, taking the children to the fairy island of Primlox, the trolls’ home of Burth, the wizard island of Hobsgrove and finally Mermaid’s Cove. By befriending the mermaids, Lucas and Clara finally recover the jewel. In thanks, the king gives Clara a horse of her own so that she may ride with Lucas on their future adventures. The third-person narration is generally unobtrusive, allowing the characters to take center stage. The charming, medieval-flavored illustrations set the fairy-tale scene and take up enough page space that new and reluctant readers won’t be overwhelmed by text.

 A gentle adventure that sets the stage for future quests. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9691-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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