A richly imagined, adeptly illustrated adventure with a strong message of respect for all species of creatures.

THE GRIFFIN'S FEATHER

From the Dragon Rider series , Vol. 2

In this sequel to Dragon Rider (2004), Ben, the protagonist of Book 1, teams up with friends to try to procure a sun feather from that most dangerous of fabulous creatures, the griffin.

Now 14, Ben lives in Norway with his adoptive family: Vita, Barnabas, and Guinevere Greenbloom. There, with help from other conservation-minded friends, they run a refuge for beings of fable and myth. While happy in his new life, Ben nonetheless deeply misses Firedrake, the dragon he befriended in Book 1, who now lives safely in the Himalayas. When the Greenblooms learn the distressing news that the eggs containing the foals of the last Pegasus are in danger, they determine to try to save them by attempting to procure a sun feather from the vicious (and dragon-hating) griffins. Hoping to keep Firedrake safely out of it, Ben lies to him about the mission’s real purpose as he, Barnabas, homunculus Twigleg, aviator-rat Lola Graytail, and troll Hothbrodd set out on their dangerous journey. This effort, is, of course, unsuccessful, nicely amping the peril. Author/illustrator Funke’s tale abounds with adventure and is infused with a strong environmental conservation message. By populating her narrative with both real and mythical creatures, she encourages readers to regard flesh-and-blood species with equal awe.The book assumes a white default.

A richly imagined, adeptly illustrated adventure with a strong message of respect for all species of creatures. (map, cast of characters) (Fantasy. 9-14)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-21553-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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