For those who like their adventures comfortable and their wonders cozy.

CARNIVAL MAGIC

From the Castle in the Mist series , Vol. 2

Two visiting American children are kidnapped by a runaway British carnival in this middle-grade fantasy sequel.

Fifth-grader Tess and her younger brother, Max, are spending another summer in England with Aunt Evie. After their previous experiences (The Castle in the Mist, 2017), the pair feel ready for anything—but when a seaside carnival magically whisks them away, they’re not sure how they’ll ever get back to Devon-by-the-Sea. This episodic tale, with its quaintly whimsical setting and omniscient narration occasionally slipping into lecture mode, reads as deliberately old-fashioned. Tess, however, is a thoroughly modern heroine: She’s athletic, impulsive, and fearless, and her warm relationship with clever, nerdy Max charms convincingly. The siblings may be kind and brave, but they are also authentic children, avoiding the arch banter and grand heroics of current trends. All the characters seem default white and, despite their very different circumstances, vaguely upper-middle-class, with the notable exception of two very broadly drawn and accented Italians. While Tess, Max, and those they befriend face very real menaces, the stakes are kept small and personal. The fantastic elements are likewise low-key and intimate; they are more the stuff of daydreams—daring the flying trapeze!—and sparkling enchantments, never explained, just accepted as facets of the titular “carnival magic.” The very short chapters create gentle suspense at a brisk pace, perfect for classroom read-alouds.

For those who like their adventures comfortable and their wonders cozy. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4021-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A story of fierce friendship, bravery, loyalty, and finding—or making—a place to belong.

THE MIDNIGHT CHILDREN

Ravani Foster and the whole town of Slaughterville are changed by the arrival of seven unusual children.

Skinny, lonely Ravani is the only one who sees the children arrive and move into the house across the street, and he soon finds a comrade in tough, golden-haired Virginia. Despite the local newspaper owner’s assertion that Slaughterville is not the kind of town where exciting things happen, Ravani’s life changes dramatically as Virginia and her chosen family of parentless kids calling themselves the Ragabonds let him in on their secret: They are on the run. When vicious bully Donnie learns that the Ragabonds are being pursued, he blackmails Ravani, who is desperate to protect them and equally desperate for Virginia, his first friend, to stay. She introduces him to the quietly revolutionary idea that things don’t have to be the way they’ve always been. The omniscient narrative voice is a strong presence throughout, drawing readers’ attention to themes including choices that make a difference, connections between people (“Sometimes, when two souls find each other in the darkness, the darkness goes away”), deciding who you want to be and not letting others define you, and the importance of home and family. Brief chapters from the perspective of the man hunting the Ragabonds ratchet up the suspense, culminating in an exciting sequence of events followed by a heartwarming ending. All main characters are coded White.

A story of fierce friendship, bravery, loyalty, and finding—or making—a place to belong. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-19672-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more