Ageless yarn-spinning, if not quite so laced with thrilling melodrama as John Yeoman and Quentin Blake’s rendition (1997).


Bright-eyed beneath a huge, floppy turban, an ever optimistic merchant sets out again and again on rocky roads to riches in this lighthearted version of the classic Arabian Nights adventures, from two Iranian expats.

Forgetting with comical regularity the disasters of each previous voyage, Sinbad repeatedly sets out from Basra with companies of fellow merchants on sea voyages. These invariably end in shipwreck and go on, through encounters with rocs, giant fish, cannibals, and such hazardous customs as the practice of burying living husbands with their dead wives, to conclude in miraculous restorations of luck and fortune. Though he relegates mention of Scheherazade to an introduction, Said links his first-person renditions with the secondary frame story common in traditional versions. Similarly, though the figures in her vignettes and wide-bordered full-page illustrations sport cartoonishly exaggerated garb and expressions, Rashin incorporates simplified but evocative Persian and other Middle Eastern stylistic motifs. Some pictures part company in major ways with the narrative, though, and less-than-proficient readers may find Said’s formal prose—“There is no protection and no power besides that of God the Almighty! But as often as God is merciful to me and frees me from one perilous situation, I plunge myself into another”—a bit of a slog.

Ageless yarn-spinning, if not quite so laced with thrilling melodrama as John Yeoman and Quentin Blake’s rendition (1997). (Folk tales. 10-13)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4240-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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From the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries series

In this series debut, Maggie Sinclair tracks down a dognapper and solves a mystery about the noises in the walls of her Brooklyn brownstone apartment building. The 12-year-old heroine, who shares a middle name—Brooklyn—with her twin brother, Finn, is juggling two dogwalking jobs she’s keeping secret from her parents, and somehow she attracts the ire of the dogs’ former walker. Maggie tells her story in the first person—she’s self-possessed and likable, even when her clueless brother invites her ex–best friend, now something of an enemy, to their shared 12th birthday party. Maggie’s attention to details helps her to figure out why dogs seem to be disappearing and why there seem to be mice in the walls of her building, though astute readers will pick up on the solution to at least one mystery before Maggie solves it. There’s a brief nod to Nancy Drew, but the real tensions in this contemporary preteen story are more about friendship and boy crushes than skullduggery. Still, the setting is appealing, and Maggie is a smart and competent heroine whose personal life is just as interesting as—if not more than—her detective work. (Mystery. 10-13)



Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 967-1-59990-525-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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A deft mix of chills and chuckles, not quite as sideways as Wayside School but in the same district.


From the Secrets of Topsea series , Vol. 1

A fifth-grader struggles to fit in after he and his recently widowed mother move to a decidedly oddball new town.

As if the seemingly infinite pier, the lighthouse in the middle of town, and the beach teeming with enigmatic cats aren’t strange enough, Davy Jones discovers that his school locker has been relocated to the deep end of the swimming pool, his lunchtime fries are delivered by a “spudzooka,” and no one seems to be able to get his name right. On the other hand, his classmates welcome him, and in next to no time he’s breaking into an abandoned arcade to play pinball against a ghost, helping track down a pet pig gone missing on Gravity Maintenance Day, and like adventures that, often as not, take sinister swerves before edging back to the merely peculiar. Point-of-view duties pass freely from character to character, and chapters are punctuated with extracts from the Topsea School Gazette (“Today’s Seaweed Level: Medium-high and feisty”), bulletins on such topics as the safe handling of rubber ducks, and background notes on, for instance, the five local seasons, giving the narrative a pleasantly loose-jointed feel. Davy presents as white, but several other central cast members are specifically described as dark- or light-skinned and are so depicted in the frequent line drawings; one has two moms.

A deft mix of chills and chuckles, not quite as sideways as Wayside School but in the same district. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-00005-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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