Imaginative, fast-paced, and fun.

SAVING FABLE

From the Talespinners series , Vol. 1

Character Indira Story lives in the fictional town of Origin and aspires to a plot of her own.

She works hard to make her dream come true: to travel to the city of Fable and attend Protagonist Preparatory, a school where famous characters such as Alice (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Romeo Montague train aspirants to become successful characters in actual stories. Ultimately, succeeding at Protagonist Preparatory would result in Indira’s being chosen by an Author in the Real World for their novel. Indira is determined to become a protagonist so that she can find her brother, David, a laborer in the town of Quiver, where he mines story nuggets. However, Indira fails her audition and begins to train as a side character. To make matters worse, her best efforts at school are sabotaged, and Fable itself is threatened. The question arises: Can a side character become a hero? Reintgen’s middle-grade debut is at once a fantastic adventure and a tribute to famous and popular literature. The plot feels rushed at times, but witty references—to literary characters and elements of the act of reading itself, like dog ears (envisioned as one-eared dogs who steal watches from anthropomorphic bookmarks)—make this novel enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny. There is nothing intrinsically Indian about brown-skinned Indira (as her name suggests but as her equally brown-skinned brother’s does not), but her-far-from positive experiences remind readers of the importance of working hard at their own stories.

Imaginative, fast-paced, and fun. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-64668-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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