A powerful demon, a psychopath turned Eco-Warrior and, almost worst of all, a seemingly archetypal pair of American tourists join the cast for this fourth outing with the tumultuous Strega-Borgia clan. Returning from Italy to find their butler Latch in an amnesiac daze, the Strega-Borgias hire a temp named Zander, who seems to be a New Age hippie but is really a murderous explosives expert out to shut down gruesome genetic experiments being clandestinely conducted at nearby SapienTech. There’s worse trouble afoot, though, as Isagoth, Head of Hell’s own Defense Ministry, is zeroing in on the Chronostone, a uniquely dangerous magical token that his boss, S’tan, really, really wants. Some of the set pieces take a bit too long to play out and the actual fate of hyper-competent nanny and retired witch Mrs. McLachlan remains obscure after she takes on the demon. But Gliori stirs in such a delicious assortment of crises domestic and supernatural, of magical creatures both comic and frightening (sometimes in turn), of slapstick, preposterous twists, hair-raising brushes with death, close encounters with gooey slime of several varieties, massive messes and explosions—all ramping up to a violent, helter-skelter climax—that it’s all still pure, dead entertaining. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-83311-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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Ramona returns (Ramona Forever, 1988, etc.), and she’s as feisty as ever, now nine-going-on-ten (or “zeroteen,” as she calls it). Her older sister Beezus is in high school, baby-sitting, getting her ears pierced, and going to her first dance, and now they have a younger baby sister, Roberta. Cleary picks up on all the details of fourth grade, from comparing hand calluses to the distribution of little plastic combs by the school photographer. This year Ramona is trying to improve her spelling, and Cleary is especially deft at limning the emotional nuances as Ramona fails and succeeds, goes from sad to happy, and from hurt to proud. The grand finale is Ramona’s birthday party in the park, complete with a cake frosted in whipped cream. Despite a brief mention of nose piercing, Cleary’s writing still reflects a secure middle-class family and untroubled school life, untouched by the classroom violence or the broken families of the 1990s. While her book doesn’t match what’s in the newspapers, it’s a timeless, serene alternative for children, especially those with less than happy realities. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16816-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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One of a four-book series designed to help the very young prepare for new siblings, this title presents a toddler-and-mother pair (the latter heavily pregnant) as they read about new babies, sort hand-me-downs, buy new toys, visit the obstetrician and the sonographer, speculate and wait. Throughout, the child asks questions and makes exclamations with complete enthusiasm: “How big is the baby? What does it eat? I felt it move! Is it a boy or girl?” Fuller’s jolly pictures present a biracial family that thoroughly enjoys every moment together. It’s a bit oversimplified, but no one can complain about the positive message it conveys, appropriately, to its baby and toddler audience. The other titles in the New Baby series are My New Baby (ISBN: 978-1-84643-276-7), Look at Me! (ISBN: 978-1-84643-278-1) and You and Me (ISBN: 978-1-84643-277-4). (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84643-275-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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