Nevertheless, the story offers rich fare for those precocious younger readers who can’t get enough; with luck they will...

LIGHTS ON THE NILE

Kepi’s name means “tempest,” and it suits, in this tale that purports to reveal the origins of fairies.

In 2530 B.C.E. Egypt, as the young daughter of a miller, her impetuousness lands her and her pet baboon captive on a boat sailing north on the Nile. As the journey progresses, plans to escape her kidnapper evolve into a quest to speak to the Pharaoh in the capital city, Ineb Hedj, to complain about his unfairness to his people. Kepi’s spiritedness only seems to grow as she gets farther from her family, and the narrative progression may strike readers as unusual as her character only intensifies, rather than showing signs of change. The final, brief climax fulfills the arc—or rather, arrow—as Kepi and the companions she’s gathered are transformed by the goddess Hathor into the world’s first fairies. Napoli’s text is full of detail of setting and culture that should enthrall young fans of historical fiction, though its resolution may leave them confounded. Conversely, readers who come to the story expecting fairy fantasy will be disappointed.

Nevertheless, the story offers rich fare for those precocious younger readers who can’t get enough; with luck they will accommodate any confusion and may move onto some of Napoli’s more polished works, a little later on. (Historical fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-166793-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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