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KIRKUS Loves Hero!

Hero, October 1, 2013HERO
Author: Alethea Kontis

Review Issue Date: September 1, 2013
Online Publish Date: August 14, 2013
Publisher:Harcourt
Pages: 304
Price ( Hardcover ): $17.99
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-544-05677-0
Category: Fiction

The cover is terribly wrong—again—but Kontis’ return to the Woodcutter family is still mightily entertaining.

This story focuses on Saturday Woodcutter, whose sister Sunday from Enchanted (2012) is now queen. Saturday is a big, strong girl who has not figured out her magic, except that the ax she was given as an infant has turned into a sword that strengthens and heals. Tossing away a magic mirror endangers her whole family, especially her changeling brother, Trix, and she goes off to find and save him. She’s mistaken for her lost brother, Jack Woodcutter, by a blind witch whose eyes he stole and who imprisons Saturday. The witch also keeps captive a man named Peregrine, magicked by the witch’s daughter into taking her place. Peregrine does his best to keep busy and sane, while dressing as a woman and trying to both serve and outwit the witch. Peregrine and Saturday are a wonderful couple, as they spar, miss signals and exchange roles, aided by Betwixt, a chimera also held by the witch. There is hardly a fairy-tale or gender trope that Kontis doesn’t turn on its head, and readers don’t need to know about Hercules cleaning out the Augean Stables to find Saturday’s impossible task of cleaning the witch’s bird’s nest both hilarious and revolting.

Whether Kontis tells the tales of other Woodcutter children or not, readers will await her next with joyful anticipation. (Fantasy. 11-18)

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Starred Review for ENCHANTED in Kirkus!

As promised, here’s that FABULOUS review from Kirkus! It still makes me giddy. (My favorite parts are in bold.)

ENCHANTED [STARRED REVIEW!]
Author: Kontis, Alethea

Review Issue Date: February 15, 2012
Online Publish Date: February 5, 2012
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin
Pages: 320
Price ( Hardcover ): $16.99
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-547-65470-4
Category: Fiction

Readers who get past the generic title and an off-puttingly generic cover will discover a fabulous fairy-tale mashup that deserves hordes of avid readers.

Sunday Woodcutter is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, living in the shadow of the memory of her eldest brother, Jack Junior, who disappeared on a cursed quest of his own. Sunday’s siblings each have their own fates and secrets. Her sisters range from twins Monday and Tuesday (Tuesday was danced to death) to Friday, who works magic with a needle; among her brothers is Trix, who is a changeling. It is Sunday, however, who becomes fast friends with a talking frog, and it is Sunday’s kiss that frees him—except she doesn’t know. Kontis has deeply and vividly woven just about every fairy character tale readers might half-remember into the fabric of her story: the beanstalk, the warrior maiden, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and some darker ones, too. She does this so seamlessly, and with such energy and good humor, that readers might miss a few references, caught up instead in Sunday’s cheer and vivacity, or in Grumble-the-Frog/Rumbold-the-Prince’s intense romantic nature (and his longing for his long-dead mother, the queen).

Absolutely delectable; if it has more fripperies and furbelows than are strictly speaking necessary, it makes up for that in the wizardly grace of its storytelling. (Fantasy. 12-18)

***

(Preorder ENCHANTED from Amazon here!)

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Pre-SENT Squee!

Kirkus reviews AlphaOops: H is for Halloween. And it kind of rocks.
Got yours yet? AlphaOops: H is for Halloween

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ALPHAOOPS: H IS FOR HALLOWEEN
Author: Kontis, Alethea
Illustrator: Kolar, Bob

Publisher:Candlewick
Pages: 40
Price ( Hardback ): $15.99
Publication Date: July 13, 2010
ISBN ( Hardback ): 978-0-7636-3966-2
Category: Picture Books
Classification: Holiday
Series: AlphaOops
Volume: 2

Those wacky theatrical letters are back, this time for a mixed-up Halloween pageant (AlphaOops: The Day Z Went First, 2006). Smiling broadly and wearing a pointy hat, “H as for Halloween.” Then, “Z is for zombie. / N is for nightmare. / K is for kraken. / P is for pirate. / B is for—” Well, B had wanted to be a buccaneer, but now it will have to find another costume. Eventually, each letter, appropriately garbed and often accompanied by a picture of what it represents, takes the stage, but not without a lot of good-natured bickering. Running below each page opening is a strip along which a pumpkin for each letter of the alphabet arranges itself, finally, in alphabetical order as each character appears in the story. Kolar’s digital illustrations give readers plenty to focus on. Sophisticated abecedarian fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

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