The Kirkus review is in and...err...
A reclusive young shrew develops a taste for adventure in this short,
witty debut. With the example of his long-absent grandmother Surka-"a
fighter, a dishwasher, and a pirate queen"-before him, little Nurk
stocks up an empty shell he calls the Snailboat and sets off downriver
in response to a letter pleading for unspecified help. That plea comes,
as it turns out, from Scatterwings, a thoroughly adolescent dragonfly
princess whose royal brother Flicker has been captured by the
Grizzlemole, a blind enchanter of mountainous size. The occasional
fluidly drawn black-and-white scenes depict a particularly tiny and
timorous-looking rodent, but Nurk shows heart aplenty in taking on a
series of eldritch challenges-and he returns home afterward bolstered by
a new self-assurance likely to spur him on in sequels to search for his
lost grandparent. Nurk's adventure, and the tone in which it's related,
will remind readers of Stuart Little's quest. (Fantasy. 10-12)
ETA: Oh my...
It occurred to me that Kirkus had mentioned something about spotlighting Nurk as a debut novel, which I had kinda forgotten until I went and googled Kirkus and Nurk, and hey! They actually talked about it some more in a section on debut fiction!
"A shrew isn’t the average reader’s idea of a
hero, and Nurk certainly would agree he doesn’t fit the
mold. When he accidentally opens a piece of mail
addressed to his long-lost grandmother, who just happened
to be the very image of a warrior, just shrew-sized,
his first reaction is to fret at having inadvertently committed
mail fraud. Like Bilbo before him, Nurk is the classic
reluctant hero, impelled by that letter into an adventure not
of his own choosing. Nurk finds its beginnings in a painting.
“I had painted this little shrew in a snail-shell boat,
and I stared at it for a while and realized there was a story
lurking somewhere in there,” says Ursula Vernon. “I wasn’t
sure what kind of story—I knew that he was staring at a
tree full of fish, but that was all I knew.” Fans of animal
fantasy will delight in meeting this diminutive adventurer."
Is that like...TWO good Kirkus reviews? One and a half? Holy moly.