A sweet second helping that will leave readers hungry for more

A SPRINKLE OF SPIRITS

From the Love Sugar Magic series , Vol. 2

The Logroño family is preparing for the arrival of the Magi on Día de los Reyes, but surprise visitors throw a wrench in the works in Meriano’s sequel to A Dash of Trouble (2018).

After the fiasco around Día de Muertos, Leo has finally been initiated into the family bruja tradition and has begun her apprenticeship in the culinary and magical arts. As the winter holiday break wanes, Leo feels pulled in too many directions: by her mother’s expectations, her sisters’ advice, and the desire to maintain friendships despite her family’s secrets. When she is awakened one morning by the corporeal spirit, she knows something terrible must be amiss and worries that her untrained magical abilities might be the cause. Her abuela has not crossed over alone, however; at least five others with unfinished business have arrived in Rose Hill ahead of Día de los Reyes, leaving trails of marigold petals in their wakes. Leo must find balance between family and friendships in order to return the spirits to el Otro Lado before they are cursed to wander, like La Llorona. Meriano’s magical contemporary world is steeped in Latinx culture, and though Leo faces fantastical complications, her struggle to find her place is a universal adolescent experience. Leo and her family are Mexican-American and live in a fairly diverse small town in Texas.

A sweet second helping that will leave readers hungry for more . (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-249849-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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