Whether or not it’s planned, readers will hope for a sequel.


Chills and chuckles abound in Durham’s latest for middle graders.

Penhallow Fitch wants to make one thing clear: he is a Grotesque—not a gargoyle. Moving his stone form is excruciatingly difficult, but he is easily able to travel outside of his stone body as a “wisp,” “an apparition that exists but can’t touch or be touched by the living.” Even though he’s about 130 years old, he tells readers that he still prefers to take the form of a preteen boy with skin that is “maybe…darker than yours, or lighter.” Every Grotesque is charged with protecting those who reside within their Domain—in Penhallow’s case, a Boston apartment building. Soon, however, Netherkin—evil spirits—begin encroaching on Penhallow’s Domain, drawn particularly to a new family in the building. And there are whispers about a creature called the Boneless King. Determined to protect his wards, Penhallow teams up with a girl nicknamed Viola who can, against all odds, see and hear him, and together they work to uncover the mystery of the Boneless King and his connection to Penhallow’s Domain. Penhallow’s dynamic first-person narration provides just the right mix of humor and horror to spook but not terrify. A tidy wrap-up, while heavy on exposition, satisfies while still leaving potential for further tales. A glossary of “goyle-isms” is appended. Human characters are nominally diverse—the Domain’s residents are multicultural, and Viola is described as having East Asian features—but there is no attempt at cultural specificity.

Whether or not it’s planned, readers will hope for a sequel. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-0020-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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This engaging, heartwarming story does everything one can ask of a book, and then some.

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A Somali boy living in a refugee camp in Kenya tries to make a future for himself and his brother in this near memoir interpreted as a graphic novel by collaborator Jamieson.

Omar Mohamed lives in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya with his younger brother, Hassan, who has a seizure disorder, and Fatuma, an elderly woman assigned to foster them in their parents’ absence. The boys’ father was killed in Somalia’s civil war, prompting them to flee on foot when they were separated from their mother. They desperately hope she is still alive and looking for them, as they are for her. The book covers six years, during which Omar struggles with decisions about attending school and how much hope to have about opportunities to resettle in a new land, like the United States. Through Omar’s journey, and those of his friends and family members, readers get a close, powerful view of the trauma and uncertainty that attend life as a refugee as well as the faith, love, and support from unexpected quarters that get people through it. Jamieson’s characteristically endearing art, warmly colored by Geddy, perfectly complements Omar’s story, conjuring memorable and sympathetic characters who will stay with readers long after they close the book. Photographs of the brothers and an afterword provide historical context; Mohamed and Jamieson each contribute an author’s note.

This engaging, heartwarming story does everything one can ask of a book, and then some. (Graphic memoir. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55391-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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


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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