GULLIVER'S TRAVELS

Swift's account of Gulliver's captivity in Lilliput and Brobdingnag is considerably shortened and rephrased here, but Riordan expertly preserves the flavor of the original: upon reaching the temple where he is to stay, the intrepid traveler shamefacedly relieves himself before the tiny multitudes (though the more famous scene where he similarly puts out a palace fire is absent); later, he survives plenty of harrowing adventures, admiringly describing the societies in which he's stranded while taking subtle pokes (and not-so-subtle—``Englishmen are the nastiest race of odious little vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth,'' says the king of Brobdingnag) at his own, and at fashion and politics in general. Large or small, Gulliver cuts a heroic figure in Ambrus's pervasive, free-wheeling illustrations; other characters have exaggerated features and a comic air that lighten the satire and serves the narrative well. Swift's ax-grinding can be indigestible in large doses; like other abridged classics from this publisher and illustrator, a palatable, well-blended appetizer. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 1992

ISBN: 0-19-279897-9

Page Count: 94

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1992

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AFTER HAMELIN

An expansion of the classic story of the pied piper, this tells of young Penelope, left behind when the piper returns for the children of Hamelin after saving the town from rats. On her 11th birthday, she must enter the world of dreams, accompanied by an eclectic assortment of companions—a talking cat, a jump-roping dragon, a blind harpist—and eventually face the piper himself in a battle of power, greed, and music. Narrated by a 101-year-old Penelope, the story bounces between recollections of the adventure, ruminations on her life, and meeting another Penelope, who is approaching her 11th birthday. By trying to incorporate too many subplots, Richardson fails to explain some of the more central points of the main story. He also introduces and dismisses concepts and props with no consistency. Penelope brings a jump rope with her, but it is rarely mentioned until she has use for it. The only way for Penelope to resist the piper’s enchanted music is to not hear it; she suddenly becomes deaf on her 11th birthday, an occurrence left unexplained. Nor does the reader ever find out why she conveniently regains her hearing upon entering the dreamland. Contrived and disjointed, this is an original interpretation that lacks development. Likely to attract lovers of fairy-tales, but it will disappoint. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-55037-629-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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UNFAMILIAR MAGIC

Alexander’s debut mixes a comical magical adventure with a light-hearted teen romance within a contemporary setting. Desi, a 12-year-old witch, is upset that her mother, Callida, refuses to teach her magic. Alone for a few days, Desi unearths Callida’s powerful Book of Spells. Unfortunately, Desi’s attempts at self-education prove humorously unsuccessful. A parallel plot involves Callida’s familiar, a female black cat named Devil. In need of a babysitter, Callida changes Devil into a human. Renamed Cat, the loyal familiar becomes a sexy, wisecracking teenager with a fondness for the boy next door, eating human food with her hairless monkey paws and shopping for clothes. The narrative alternates between Cat’s prolonged transformation and Desi’s magical education, which includes the unexpected appearance of her father, a powerful warlock. The sexual tension volleys between Desi’s age-appropriate crush on a boy to Cat’s more mature relationship with her boyfriend. That, plus the childish cover art, will make it difficult to pinpoint a target audience. Still, this is an entertaining, quick read full of romance, shopping and magic. (Magical adventure. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 27, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-85854-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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