While this story is sometimes bogged down by moralizing and adventures that don't always seem to support the plot,...

SUMMER OF THE MARIPOSAS

In her first fantasy, Pura Belpré winner McCall (Under the Mesquite, 2011)tells the story of five sisters and their myriad adventures as they travel from their home in Texas to Mexico.

When narrator and eldest Odilia and her sisters, Juanita, Velia, Delia and Pita, find a dead man in their swimming hole, Odilia wants to call the authorities. She is soon overruled by her sisters, who clamor to return the man to his family and visit their grandmother, all of whom live in Mexico. What follows is a series of adventures that hover somewhere on the border between fantasy and magical realism as the sisters are helped and hindered by supernatural forces including Latin American legends La Llorona, lechuzas and chupacabras. Despite multiple decisions that lead them into danger, the younger sisters persist in dismissing Odilia’s warnings, their bad choices ranging from silly to decidedly immature. When they reach their grandmother’s house, the dialogue-heavy story continues with extensive reflection of a level of maturity incongruous with the behavior exhibited in prior pages. The sisters then return home to face real-world problems that may prove most challenging of all.

While this story is sometimes bogged down by moralizing and adventures that don't always seem to support the plot, originality and vibrancy shine through to make it a worthwhile read despite its flaws. (Fantasy. 9-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60060-900-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tu Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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