Despite awkward moments, the tale offers vivid descriptions, an intriguing plot and a setting not often seen in North...

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UNTIL THE DAY ARRIVES

In the early 17th century, two hauntingly plague-orphaned Portuguese siblings flee their village for Lisbon, only to encounter more vicissitudes before reaching a safer haven in Brazil.

Manu and Bento exhibit strong loyalty to each other, and they adhere faithfully to their Roman Catholic upbringing. For most of the story, 11-year-old Manu, a girl, poses as a boy for safety’s sake, a device that both furthers the plot and may help readers believe the siblings’ feminist, anti-racist and anti-slavery values that, however sympathetic, seem more in sync with 21st-century progressive values than those of their own time. The third-person narrative is mostly told from Manu’s point of view, but it also follows captured Africans—in grim, realistic detail—to their eventual relationships with Manu and Bento. When Bento falls in love with the African slave Rosa, and Manu befriends both the African slave Didi and the indigenous boy Caiubi, the siblings learn about quilombos—settlements of runaway slaves—and put their abolitionist values into action. In Springer’s translation, Machado’s story is sometimes hindered by stilted, patronizing or sentimental passages. Didactic interludes provide contextual information about such complex subjects as Portuguese/Brazilian history and the trans-Atlantic slave trade; these are augmented by a helpful editorial note and glossary.

Despite awkward moments, the tale offers vivid descriptions, an intriguing plot and a setting not often seen in North American literature for children. (Historical fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55498-455-8

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing.

SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE

From the Sunny series , Vol. 3

Sunny, in seventh grade, finds her score on the Groovy Meter taking some wild swings as her friends’ interests move in different directions.

In a motif that haunts her throughout, Sunny succumbs to a teen magazine’s personality quiz and sees her tally seesaw radically. Her BF Deb has suddenly switched focus to boys, clothes, and bands such as the Bee Gees (this is 1977)—dismissing trick-or-treating and wearing galoshes on rainy days as “babyish.” Meanwhile, Sunny takes delight in joining nerdy neighbors Lev, Brian, and Arun in regular sessions of Dungeons and Dragons (as a fighter character, so cool). The storytelling is predominantly visual in this episodic outing, with just occasional snatches of dialogue and pithy labels to fill in details or mark the passage of time; frequent reaction shots deftly capture Sunny’s feelings of being pulled this way and that. Tellingly, in the Holms’ panels (colored by Pien), Sunny’s depicted as significantly smaller than Deb, visually underscoring her developmental awkwardness. Deb’s comment that “we’re too old to be playing games like that” leads Sunny to drop out of the D&D circle and even go to the school’s staggeringly dull spring dance. Sunny’s mostly white circle of peers expands and becomes more diverse as she continues to navigate her way through the dark chambers and misty passages of early adolescence. Lev is an Orthodox Jew, Arun is South Asian, and Regina, another female friend, has brown skin.

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-23314-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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