A neglected child's supernatural defenders turn against her in this brooding fantasy, set in modern Wales. Dinah's mother, Rosalie, has a new paramour: wealthy, ruthless Gomer Gwynne, who parks the two in a decrepit, overgrown mansion—just for a while, he says. Savvy beyond her 11 years, Dinah sees how much Gomer wants her out from underfoot, but a lifetime of being unwanted has toughened her, and the chance, however quixotic, of having a settled home prompts her to dig in her heels. She finds unexpected help on a visit to town; animated by her fierce wishes, some of the wild animals carved on a stone wall follow her home, to lurk menacingly in the shadows outside, harassing and attacking Gwynne at her command. When she tries to leave the house on Christmas Day, however, she suddenly finds them ranged against her. Nimmo (The Witches and the Singing Mice, 1993, etc.) tests her smart, strong-minded protagonist with a series of challenging situations, a powerful enemy, dangerous magical servants, and a trio of would-be allies: a battered old tomcat and two schoolmates able to see past her brusque exterior. The story has a dark, mysterious tone, but ends on a bright note: Gwynne's glib promise of marriage seems a thin prize for Rosalie, but it frees Dinah to find a home at last with a loving, just-discovered great-grandfather. A well-told story with unusually strong characters. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-531-30006-4

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

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“Hear, and listen well, my friends, and I will tell you a tale that has been told for a thousand years and more.” It’s not exactly a rarely told tale, either, though this complete rendition is distinguished by both handsome packaging and a prose narrative that artfully mixes alliterative language reminiscent of the original, with currently topical references to, for instance, Grendel’s “endless terror raids,” and the “holocaust at Heorot.” Along with being printed on heavy stock and surrounded by braided borders, the text is paired to colorful scenes featuring a small human warrior squaring off with a succession of grimacing but not very frightening monsters in battles marked by but a few discreet splashes of blood. Morpurgo puts his finger on the story’s enduring appeal—“we still fear the evil that stalks out there in the darkness . . . ”—but offers a version unlikely to trouble the sleep of more sensitive readers or listeners. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-3206-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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Summertime finds a strange combination of five middle-schoolers high up in a leafy tree house in their newly formed support group, the “R.U. Club,” where the secret is what “R.U.” means and what they do in the club. They could not be more unlike one another and yet each deeply understands what it is like to live in a new family because of death or divorce: They feel like leftovers, “even though we are right under their noses.” Each one takes a turn to describe her concern or worry. Anonymously, in written suggestions and then in group brainstorming sessions, they discuss solutions. Then as the girls put their trust in collective wisdom and thoughtfully apply effort and action through careful heartfelt adherence to club rules, camaraderie develops. Mounting interest in the characters and their adjustments to family life builds to a too-sweet conclusion, which could be redressed in a sequel, yet five genuine multifaceted characters together with their families make a large cast of characters. which Deriso handles adeptly. An interesting group that begs for a sequel. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-73334-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2007

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