A delicious, pink-and-purple-frosted existential cupcake.


From the Ever After High series , Vol. 2

Having failed to go poof when she refused to sign the Storybook of Legends on Legacy Day, Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen, must now face the consequences.

The first consequence is a mega-epic food fight between Royals and Rebels. Seeking to restore order to Ever After High, Headmaster Grimm declares an early celebration of Yester Day so the students can connect with their elders, who properly followed their destinies—or have they? Desperate for leadership wisdom, Raven’s roommate, Apple White (daughter of Snow), visits senile Old King Cole, tyrannical Empress Buff (as in those new clothes) and her mother, whose best advice is “to smile and make eye contact.” Raven chooses to interview Red Riding Hood, whose distinctly unsanctioned, still-clandestine romance with “Baddy” resulted in their half-wolf daughter, Cerise. When the disruption at Ever After High leads to the banishment of their friend Madeline Hatter, Raven and Apple team up for a dangerous, last-ditch effort to save her that is very much against the rules. As in series opener The Storybook of Legends (2013), Hale goes to town with her premise, stretching the rules of her universe as much as Raven does. Particularly funny is Humphrey Dumpty as a hacker and rapper extraordinaire. But she never lets readers forget that the central question of her tale, the one that plagues her characters, is whether destiny prevents or is freedom.

A delicious, pink-and-purple-frosted existential cupcake. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-28201-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2014

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A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.


From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Nellie Bly’s contemporary namesake does her proud.


From the Newspaper Club series , Vol. 1

Eleven-year-old Nellie’s investigative reporting leads her to solve a mystery, start a newspaper, and learn key lessons about growing up.

Nellie’s voice is frank and often funny—and always full of information about newspapers. She tells readers of the first meeting of her newspaper club and then says, “But maybe I’m burying the lede…what Dad calls it when a reporter puts the most interesting part…in the middle or toward the end.” (This and other journalism vocabulary is formally defined in a closing glossary.) She backtracks to earlier that summer, when she and her mother were newly moved into a house next to her mother’s best friend in rural Bear Creek, Maine. Nellie explains that the newspaper that employed both of her parents in “the city” had folded soon after her father left for business in Asia. When Bear Creek Park gets closed due to mysterious, petty crimes, Nellie feels compelled to investigate. She feels closest to her dad when on the park’s swings, and she is more comfortable interviewing adults than befriending peers. Getting to know a plethora of characters through Nellie’s eyes is as much fun as watching Nellie blossom. Although astute readers will have guessed the park’s vandalizers, they are rewarded by observing Nellie’s fact-checking process. A late revelation about Nellie’s father does not significantly detract from this fully realized story of a young girl adjusting admirably to new circumstances. Nellie and her mother present white; secondary characters are diverse.

Nellie Bly’s contemporary namesake does her proud. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9685-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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