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THE GHOST IN THE GARDEN

A resourceful heroine shines in a shivery treat for young fans of paranormal fiction.

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In Lee’s middle-grade ghost story, a young girl is threatened by a dangerous spirit.

When Sophie moves during summer vacation from her beloved big-city Calgary in Canada’s Alberta province to small-town Stratford in Ontario, she dreads the “social doom” of starting sixth grade in a school where she will be both the new kid and the daughter of the new guidance counselor, her dad. Yet she can’t help but like the 19th-century house her parents bought, with its intriguing, overgrown garden and a turret bedroom she’s claimed for her own. But who is Tabitha, the girl in the garden, whose hands are so cold and who disappears with ninja stealth when anyone but Sophie is near? And why does the closed door to Sophie’s bedroom closet open at night to a darkness that “felt like its own living, breathing entity,” plunging Sophie into waking nightmares? A finger, “old and gnarled with age,” brushing her cheek is only her first disturbing contact with a malevolent spirit. An atmosphere of escalating unease ramps up the chills in this portrayal of an 11-year-old girl in ghostly danger. Suspense and scares are expertly balanced with Sophie’s empathy for Tabitha and her well-drawn camaraderie with Fitz, a boy her age who becomes a supportive friend. Less successful is the depiction of Sophie’s parents’ belated, casual, even obtuse reactions to unsettling occurrences. (Oblivious when Fritz installs a sturdy lock on the closet door, Sophie’s science-minded dad insists that a trapped possum must have caused the dramatic damage that follows.) In the end, with help from Fitz, a history teacher who “believes all sorts of strange things,” and a performance of Hamlet, Sophie pieces together what is happening and risks her life to confront the threatening spirit. Cryptic mentions of a mysterious gate in town and the 100-year-old ruins of a mill may signal more adventures for Sophie and Fitz to come.

A resourceful heroine shines in a shivery treat for young fans of paranormal fiction.

Pub Date: March 18, 2024

ISBN: 9781944644451

Page Count: 196

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

A young tennis champion becomes the target of revenge.

In this sequel to Legacy and the Queen (2019), Legacy Petrin and her friends Javi and Pippa have returned to Legacy’s home province and the orphanage run by her father. With her friends’ help, she is in training to defend her championship when they discover that another player, operating under the protection of High Consul Silla, is presenting herself as Legacy. She is so convincing that the real Legacy is accused of being an imitation. False Legacy has become a hero to the masses, further strengthening Silla’s hold, and it becomes imperative to uncover and defeat her. If Legacy is to win again, she must play her imposter while disguised as someone else. Winning at tennis is not just about money and fame, but resisting Silla’s plans to send more young people into brutal mines with little hope of better lives. Legacy will have to overcome her fears and find the magic that allowed her to claim victory in the past. This story, with its elements of sports, fantasy, and social consciousness that highlight tensions between the powerful and those they prey upon, successfully continues the series conceived by late basketball superstar Bryant. As before, the tennis matches are depicted with pace and spirit. Legacy and Javi have brown skin; most other characters default to White.

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949520-19-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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NURA AND THE IMMORTAL PALACE

An enthralling fantasy debut exploring exploitation by those in power.

Will 12-year-old Nura be able to outsmart the trickster jinn and save herself and her friends?

Nura lives in the fictional Pakistani town of Meerabagh, where she has worked mining mica to help support her family of five—her mother, herself, and her three younger siblings—since her father’s death. In the mines she has the company of her best friend, Faisal, who is teased by other kids for his stutter, and she enjoys small pleasures like splurging on gulab jamun. Although Maa wants Nura to stop working and attend school, she has no interest in classroom learning and hopes to save up to send her younger siblings to school instead so they can break the family’s cycle of poverty. Following a mining accident in which Faisal and others are lost in the rubble, Nura goes to the rescue. In her quest, she is plunged into the magical, glittering jinn realm, where nothing is as it seems. The author seamlessly weaves into the worldbuilding of the story commentary on real-life problems such as the ravages of child labor and systems that perpetuate inequities. An informative author’s note further explores present-day global cycles of oppression as well as the life-changing power of education. This action-packed story set in a Muslim community moves at a fast pace, with evocative writing that brings the fantasy world to life and lyrical imagery to describe emotions.

An enthralling fantasy debut exploring exploitation by those in power. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5795-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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