MG/YA – When You Wish Upon a Star

Lim, Elizabeth. When You Wish Upon a Star. Disney Hyperion, 2023. 978-1-368-07754-5. $18.99. 380 p. Grades 7-12.

“What if the Blue Fairy wasn’t supposed to help Pinnochio?” Before becoming the Blue Fairy, Chiara was a young woman who loved helping others. In her village, she was known for her kindness, and Chiara was adored by her younger sister Ilaria. Although Chiara was always thinking of others, Ilaria was always thinking of herself. Her dream was to become the world’s most famous opera singer, and her passion for singing landed her an audition at a prestigious opera school. If she’s accepted, she’ll be able to leave their village of Periva and achieve her dreams. Everything changes for the sisters and their family when Chiara is given the opportunity to train with the fairies on the wishing star. In her absence, Ilaria befriends the quiet and caring Gephetto, but when her audition goes poorly and the time comes for Chiara to leave for good, Ilaria joins the heartless fairies in their pursuit for power. Years later, when Chiara and Ilaria meet again as the Blue and Red Fairy in the home of a much older Gephetto, they strike a bargain: If Pinnochio can be kind, good, and true, together they will make him a real boy. If not, Ilaria will take Chiara’s heart instead. Can the sisters who were once so close find their way back to one another, or will Chiara lose her heart and sister forever?

THOUGHTS: This is one of the best Twisted Tales that I’ve read, and I have read them all! My favorite thing about this tale is that the original story of Pinnochio stays exactly the same. The story of Chiara and her sister has been added, and I loved learning more about the fairies, the wishing star, and the magic present in Periva. I’d recommend this one to any reader, and you certainly don’t have to be a fan of Pinnochio to love this story. The Twisted Tales are a perfect addition to any middle or high school collection, especially When You Wish Upon a Star. 


MG/YA – Almost There

Rochon, Farrah. Almost There. Disney Hyperion, 2022. 978-1-368-07756-9. $18.99. 464 p. Grades 7-12.

“What if Tiana made a deal that changed everything?” This story begins where the movie comes to an end, and against Tiana’s better judgment, she decides to make a deal with Dr. Facilier, also known as The Shadow Man. He not only promises that Tiana will have her restaurant but that she’ll have it with her father who died when she was young. In return, she must give up a future with Prince Naveen and add a special potion into her gumbo each night at the restaurant. When she agrees to the terms, she wakes up to a seemingly perfect life. Although she misses Naveen, she now has her father and the restaurant of their dreams. As time goes on, strange things start to happen in New Orleans, and Tiana may need the help of closest friends to set things right.

THOUGHTS: I’ve been a big fan of the Twisted Tales since I started reading them a few years ago but as a lifelong Disney fan, I was skeptical of the idea; however, each one has exceeded my expectations, including Almost There, a twist on The Princess and the Frog. Although this series has two main authors, Disney chose an African American author from Louisiana to bring Tiana’s story from the screen to the page. Set in 1920s New Orleans, the book is able to touch on subjects, such as racism, that the movie did not explore. Readers will enjoy this tale even if they haven’t seen the movie and will be inspired to explore the others as well. The Twisted Tales are a must have series for any middle and high school library.

Fantasy          Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

YA – Tin Man

Madson, Justin. Tin Man. Amulet Books, 2022. 978-1-419-75104-2. 219 p. $17.99. Grades 7-10.

Solar is a senior but instead of feeling like her whole life is ahead of her, she feels scared and uncertain. The death of her grandmother, who was also her best friend and mentor, has shaken Solar to her core. Fenn, her little brother, is confused and saddened by her change in personality. The two of them used to work on building a rocket together, but now Solar has little interest in much of anything, especially if it involves Fenn. Campbell is a tin man, a woodsman who wants more in his life than just chopping down trees. Against his father’s wishes, Campbell receives a heart and leaves home to work through all of the feelings he suddenly has. Fenn, Solar, and Campbell become unlikely friends and together, they work through all of their difficult feelings to understand what life has to offer them.

THOUGHTS: This graphic novel is a heart-warming story of how friendship can help heal feelings of loss and confusion. Read closely to see other objects and symbols from The Wizard of Oz peppered throughout Tin Man. 

Graphic Novel                Danielle Corrao, Manheim Central SD