THE BOOTLACE MAGICIAN

Micah Tuttle begins to discover the depths of his own magic in this sequel to Circus Mirandus (2015).

Micah, just passing his 11th birthday, becomes more at home in Circus Mirandus and spends time perfecting his charmed knot tying (and untying), using threads, shoelaces, and string as the mediums for his magic. He hopes to capture feelings and memories in the knots and to understand the mechanism by which a knot might remain connected to one in a thread far away. He is given the responsibility of caring for the baby unicorn in the Circus Mirandus menagerie. Micah’s kindness and his affection for the lighthearted creature, Terpsichore, lead him to wonder whether the foal wasn’t really abandoned by the other unicorns but rather deliberately left with the circus to protect its life. The wicked grandmother whose reputation haunts Micah emerges as a powerful threat to both the circus and the world at large. Micah presents as white; several other primary characters are described as having dark skin or non-European origins; and Micah’s friend from outside the circus is Latinx-implied Jenny Mendoza. Beasley’s taut third-person narrative, wholly focused on Micah, is refreshingly free of unnecessary fantasy flourishes. Complex yet efficient, her storytelling is warmly comfortable and sure-handed. Each member of the circus’ varied magical community has a gift and an important role to play, and all the magic feels genuine and believable.

Marvelously entertaining. (Fantasy. 9-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55263-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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