This entry in the Monster High/Ever After High franchise may please fans, but it’s unlikely to win new ones.

THE LEGEND OF SHADOW HIGH

From the Ever After High series

The World of Stories is in danger, and it’s up to the offspring of famous fairy-tale characters and monsters to team up to save the day.

Fairy-tale characters don’t believe in monsters, and monsters don’t believe in fairy tales. Each group lives in its own carefully isolated island-world within the World of Stories. Then Frankie Stein and Draculaura accidentally transport themselves from Monster High to Ever After High, where they meet Apple White (Snow’s daughter) and her friend Raven Queen, the Evil Queen’s daughter (Apple and Raven's familial connection is unremarked upon). After mutual exclamations that these mythological figures really exist, the four girls band together to stop Raven’s power-hungry mother, recently escaped from mirror prison, from freeing Shadow High from the annals of legend. If they fail, the lands that make up the World of Stories will come crashing together, unmaking the entire World and destroying everyone in it. Third-person, present-tense narration with asides in the form of footnotes makes the novice Narrator, Brooke Page, a character who breaks the fourth wall. Self-awareness abounds; puns, literal interpretations of figurative sayings, and the series’ trademark portmanteaus (“fangtastic,” “spelltacular”) fill the pages and may strike many as precious rather than cute. Moreover, overuse of the same jokes grows tiring (how many jokes can be made of the famous “Pease Porridge” rhyme?—five, apparently).

This entry in the Monster High/Ever After High franchise may please fans, but it’s unlikely to win new ones. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-35282-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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