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Starred Review from Kirkus Reviews for "A Properly Unhaunted Place"

Kelly Murphy's latest chapter book, A Properly Unhaunted Place, written by National Book Award-winning author William Alexander and published by Simon and Schuster, has received a starred review from Kirkus.

"In a world where hauntings are endemic, Rosa Díaz finds herself in a town suspiciously devoid of ghostly activity in Alexander's (Nomad, 2016, etc.) latest.

Latina protagonist Rosa is not your usual new-to-town middle school student. Rosa is an apprentice appeasement specialist. Her skills in placating restless souls are going to waste in the small town of Ingot, a place where people go to escape their hauntings, not to appease them. The placid lack of supernatural phenomena ends when an angry spirit gate-crashes opening day of the town Renaissance festival embodied in the carcass of a mountain lion. With the help of a new acquaintance, 11-year-old mixed-race (black/white) Jasper, Rosa sets out to solve the mysteries of where the phantom came from and why no others exist in this quaint town. Alexander does an excellent job of building a contemporary world in which the paranormal is nevertheless ubiquitous and expected. This haunted world begs for further exploration. Though it's a perfectly enjoyable tale on a purely superficial level, readers who choose to dig deeper will find an engrossing exploration of complicated grief and what damage may be wrought when negative emotions are barricaded away rather than addressed.

A fun and fast-paced supernatural mystery with secret depths for those who dare explore them."
Posted on May 24th, 2017See more news about Kirkus, Starred Reviews

Starred Review from Kirkus for "The Door By The Staircase"

Kelly Murphy's new book for Disney-Hyperion, The Door By The Staircase, received a starred review from Kirkus:

"Will bravery, kindness, and perceptiveness be enough to earn 12-year-old orphan Mary Hayes a permanent home with Madame Zolotaya, the elderly woman who rescues her from a terrible Buffalo orphanage?

Even if readers don't know Baba Yaga, they will probably recognize that Mary's savior is a witch whose delicious meals are designed to fatten her up for the oven. "I am no one's mother" the wrinkled old woman says. Can she become one? is the underlying question, and the answer will be heartwarming to any reader. Madame Z lives in the woods outside Iris, a town full of people who profess to be masters of the occult: "con artists, fakes, and charlatans" she calls them. But there is real magic there, too, and Mary and her new friend, Jacob Kagan, son of a traveling illusionist, are determined to find it to ensure that they both will have permanent homes. There is suspense throughout and heart-stopping moments early on to draw readers into this immensely satisfying story. Woven into the traditional third-person narrative are intriguing details about magicians' secrets and mouthwatering descriptions of Russian foods: blini, mushroom and potato dumplings, kulich with farmer's cheese, and rye bread with holodetz, this last eaten on a peekneek.

Well-drawn characters, an original setting, and a satisfying resolution are the ingredients that make this carefully crafted middle-grade adventure a highly rewarding read."

The Door By The Staircase will be out in stores January 5th, 2016.
Posted on October 1st, 2015See more news about <Kirkus, Starred Reviews

"The Miniature World of Marvin and James" reviewed by Kirkus

A glowing review of Elise Broach and Kelly Murphy's latest chapter book, The Miniature World of Marvin and James, by Kirkus:

"Murphy clearly revels in the Borrowers-style perspective of the beetles' miniature world: In their under-sink home, Marvin's drawing table is a die, and a propped-up birthday-cake candle dwarfs the family. The dramatic, blow-by-blow pencil-sharpener incident dominates the story, but it circles back to friendship. James really did miss Marvin after all, and a souvenir seashell (the perfect beetle hideout!) seals the deal.

This winsome series debut is both a sweet story of cross-species friendship and a sobering new way to look at pencil sharpeners."

Posted on January 15th, 2014See more news about Reviews, <Kirkus
Posted on November 21st, 2011See more press about Awards and Lists, <Kirkus

Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters in 5 Fantastic Picture Books for Halloween List by Kirkus

Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters has been selected by Kirkus as one of their favourite picks for Halloween and is featured in their 5 Fantastic Picture Books for Halloween list.

Posted on October 26th, 2011See more press about Awards and Lists, <Kirkus

Starred review by Kirkus for Secrets At Sea

Secrets At Sea receives a starred review from Kirkus:

"...Whimsical language, sure characterization, unflagging adventure, even romance-all seen through Helena's relentlessly practical beady little eyes."

Posted on September 15th, 2011See more press about Reviews, <Kirkus, Starred Reviews

Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters reviewed by Kirkus

A delightful Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters review by Kirkus:

"Murphy chooses a muted palette to illustrate the motley bunch of innocuous creatures sporting a horn or two, various numbers of eyes, an occasional tail or tufts of fur. Preschool monster fans are sure to pore over and giggle at Murphy's droll, detailed paintings executed in a mix of oil, acrylic and gel...There's plenty in this scary-sweet book to please children all year round."

Posted on August 1st, 2011See more press about Reviews, <Kirkus

Secrets At Sea a Top 26 Book at BEA

Secrets At Sea was chosen by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Top 26 Books at BookExpo America (BEA).

Posted on May 20th, 2011See more press about Awards and Lists, <Kirkus

The Basilisk's Lair review by Kirkus

The Basilisk's Lair review on Kirkus Reviews:

"When his Aunt Phil flies to the western Sudan to recapture an escaped basilisk, she takes Nathaniel Fludd along, reassuring him that he is only to "watch and learn." Instead, he and his gremlin friend, Greasle, play important roles. This satisfying middle-grade adventure features a hesitant, unskilled hero, a miniature sidekick straight from Where the Wild Things Are and an exotic setting in colonial British West Africa in 1928. The basilisk is appropriately scary, and straightforward storytelling leads to an exciting climax. Readers won't get and don't need the entire back story from Flight of the Phoenix (2009), the first in the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series, but those who have read it will surely enjoy the return of the supposed orphan and his formidable aunt. Murphy has provided a full-page pen-and-ink illustration as well as several smaller sketches for almost every chapter, and Nathaniel contributes drawings, too. Sharp-eyed readers will realize that the chapter numbers are counted in animal bones. This story is complete in itself, but the ending promises more adventure to come." (Adventure. 7-10)
Posted on April 29th, 2010See more press about Reviews, <Kirkus

Brand-New Baby Blues review by Kirkus

A great review of Brand-New Baby Blues from Kirkus Reviews:

"A young girl is adjusting to life with her new baby brother. "[T]he good ol' days are over," sings the repeated refrain, "It's official, it's the news! / With my brand-new baby brother / came the brand-new baby blues!" Appelt's catchy, child-friendly text and Murphy's energetic, engaging pictures illustrate her woes, from the golden memories of her days as the only one to her mother's newfound busyness, her father's goofy attempts at entertaining the baby and the unfortunate fragrance of stinky diapers. Funny and concise, the rollicking rhyme bounces along, accepting the frustration natural to the situation, while gently allowing the girl's love of and appreciation for her brother, as well as her anticipation of a future playmate, to gradually shine through. The process is complemented by the illustrations, which modulate in palette from angry blues and greens to sunny yellows, while serene compositions replace off-kilter ones. Older brothers and sisters will easily identify with this jaunty heroine and profit from her realizations-an excellent choice for a new older sibling. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Posted on December 15th, 2009See more press about Reviews, <Kirkus

Masterpiece review by Kirkus Reviews

A laudatory Masterpiece review by Kirkus Reviews:

"Delightful intricacies of beetle life . . . blend seamlessly with the suspenseful caper as well as the sentimental story of a complicated-but-rewarding friendship that requires a great deal of frantic leg-wiggling on Marvin's part. Murphy's charming pen-and-ink drawings populate the short chapters of this funny, winsome novel."

Posted in 2008See more press about Reviews, <Kirkus, Masterpiece

Fiona's Luck review by Kirkus

Fiona's Luck review on Kirkus Reviews:

"...Children will delight in the cunning way that Fiona triumphs over the leprechaun king, as well as in the rhythmic language of this well-told tale. Using acrylic, watercolor and gel medium, Murphy creates simple, angular figures and soft, right backgrounds, a combination that perfectly accentuates the folksy charisma of Bateman's story..."
Posted on January 15th, 2007See more press about Reviews, <Kirkus

Dancing Matilda review by Kirkus

A Dancing Matilda review by Kirkus Reviews:

"Murphy's bouncy illustrations add considerable charm to the story with expressive kangaroo faces and small, humorous details for readers to discover. A little kookaburra bird appears on most pages, and Matilda is tucked into bed with her toy bear-a koala bear, of course. (Picture book. 3-8)"
Posted on May 15th, 2005See more press about Reviews, <Kirkus

Loony Little review by Kirkus

A Loony Little review by Kirkus Reviews:

"Murphy depicts a company of worried-looking creatures crossing wide, icy northern flats beneath greenish skies. Closing with notes about Arctic animals appearing in the tale, and the effects of seemingly small climatic changes, this artfully weaves an issue of contemporary concern into a favorite traditional tale-and makes the frantic messengers rather more than the usual brainless dupes. (Picture book. 6-10)"
Posted on November 1st, 2003See more press about Reviews, <Kirkus

The Boll Weevil Ball review by Kirkus

The Boll Weevil Ball review by Kirkus Reviews:

"A tiny beetle finds the perfect dancing partner in this endearing, if awkwardly written, debut. So short that only the top of his head shows in a family portrait, Redd nonetheless decides that he's going to the Boll Weevil Ball. Arriving "a little frazzled" after hitching a wild ride on a passing cricket, then almost getting squished on the dance floor, he sadly climbs onto a branch to watch-and meets Lily, a lightning bug just his size. She lifts him up, and the ensuing self-lit, aerial Weevil Waltz brings all of the earthbound dancers to a standstill. Though some lines aren't as well phrased as they might be-"Suddenly, legs and feet flew at him from all directions"; "Finally, Redd was as tall as his big brothers"-Murphy's stubby limbed, dot-eyed insects are brightly decorated and pose gracefully in romantically lit nighttime scenes. A pleasant take on the idea, which children are always receptive to, that size and success are not necessarily related. (Picture book. 5-7)"
Posted on July 15th, 2002See more press about Reviews, <Kirkus, The Boll Weevil Ball