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THE MAGICIANS

Protecting magic, extending grace, leaping into the future with hope—this tour de force will nourish souls.

In this translated French import, three magicians materialize from prolonged dormancy, but hot on their heels are a huntress and a mechanical lion/dragon.

Eleven chapter headings organize intriguing third-person episodes. Some hint at aspects of the trio’s personalities: “A Scoundrel” (the elephant), “A Pest” (the bird), and “A Sly Fox” (the redheaded girl). The opening suggests that this fantasy occurs “now,” while the conclusion says it “will be again.” Nearly square, silkscreenlike images in a controlled palette are framed by the borders of abundant, soft, creamy pages. Several sentences per page—all in blue caps—reveal an elegant translation: The elephant slams the door “with the surly incivility of a traveler in a hurry.” Climactic moments fill double spreads. When the main characters combat their pursuers and acquaintances, tilted angles and sharp-edged shadows dominate; when the protagonists escape “outside” through a tear in the page, the compositions are less saturated, with childlike scribbles producing a more innocent vibe. Most people have pink skin; some people toward the end read Black. Recurring threads emerge: the quest for home, the tension between orderliness and chaos, the desirability of magic in the world, and the wisdom of reconsidering first impressions. As these motifs wend through transformations and cameos containing familiar folkloric elements, readers experience the sense of a gifted storyteller improvising as ideas flow.

Protecting magic, extending grace, leaping into the future with hope—this tour de force will nourish souls. (Graphic fantasy. 8-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781592704040

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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