Some dark doings, but far more charm and happy endings.



Ten familiar Western tales are buffed up, inventively recast, and infused with tenderness and warm good humor.

Opening with the parochial (her sources, characters, and settings seem to be exclusively Eurocentric) but lovely observation that fairy tales “are our living heritage, true fairy gold, except these stories do not disappear at sunset,” McKay begins with a tale in which, intercut with flashbacks, an older Rapunzel teaches her twin children about patience when they bring home a songbird that fearfully clings to its cage. A heart-rending version of “Rumpelstiltskin” featuring a lowly “hob” who aches for a child to love follows. Snow White artfully uses her own experiences to wean her granddaughter Sophie away from the notion that being prettiest of all is all that counts; peas and mattresses come into play when a newborn Prince Charming pulls the Dust-Gray Fairy’s nose. “Red Riding Hood” is stripped of its stranger-danger overtones and ends with a joyful wedding; in a clever bit of literary legerdemain, Gretel tells her tale with perfect coherence but back to front in a school report; and for the closer, an atmospheric retelling of the Grimms’ “Six Swans” proposes an answer to the powerful riddle: “If I have seven boys and a sister for each of them, how many children have I?” With rare exceptions—notably Gretel’s class picture, which features a lineup diverse in dress and skin tone—Gibb sticks to traditional white figures and antique or country garb in her frequent silhouettes and delicately detailed painted scenes.

Some dark doings, but far more charm and happy endings. (bibliography) (Fairy tales/short stories. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3284-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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From the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries series

In this series debut, Maggie Sinclair tracks down a dognapper and solves a mystery about the noises in the walls of her Brooklyn brownstone apartment building. The 12-year-old heroine, who shares a middle name—Brooklyn—with her twin brother, Finn, is juggling two dogwalking jobs she’s keeping secret from her parents, and somehow she attracts the ire of the dogs’ former walker. Maggie tells her story in the first person—she’s self-possessed and likable, even when her clueless brother invites her ex–best friend, now something of an enemy, to their shared 12th birthday party. Maggie’s attention to details helps her to figure out why dogs seem to be disappearing and why there seem to be mice in the walls of her building, though astute readers will pick up on the solution to at least one mystery before Maggie solves it. There’s a brief nod to Nancy Drew, but the real tensions in this contemporary preteen story are more about friendship and boy crushes than skullduggery. Still, the setting is appealing, and Maggie is a smart and competent heroine whose personal life is just as interesting as—if not more than—her detective work. (Mystery. 10-13)



Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 967-1-59990-525-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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A deft mix of chills and chuckles, not quite as sideways as Wayside School but in the same district.


From the Secrets of Topsea series , Vol. 1

A fifth-grader struggles to fit in after he and his recently widowed mother move to a decidedly oddball new town.

As if the seemingly infinite pier, the lighthouse in the middle of town, and the beach teeming with enigmatic cats aren’t strange enough, Davy Jones discovers that his school locker has been relocated to the deep end of the swimming pool, his lunchtime fries are delivered by a “spudzooka,” and no one seems to be able to get his name right. On the other hand, his classmates welcome him, and in next to no time he’s breaking into an abandoned arcade to play pinball against a ghost, helping track down a pet pig gone missing on Gravity Maintenance Day, and like adventures that, often as not, take sinister swerves before edging back to the merely peculiar. Point-of-view duties pass freely from character to character, and chapters are punctuated with extracts from the Topsea School Gazette (“Today’s Seaweed Level: Medium-high and feisty”), bulletins on such topics as the safe handling of rubber ducks, and background notes on, for instance, the five local seasons, giving the narrative a pleasantly loose-jointed feel. Davy presents as white, but several other central cast members are specifically described as dark- or light-skinned and are so depicted in the frequent line drawings; one has two moms.

A deft mix of chills and chuckles, not quite as sideways as Wayside School but in the same district. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-00005-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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