Satisfying action and adventure.

Arboregal, the Lorn Tree

Four young Americans attempt to uncover a prophecy as they search for a way home after being transported to a fantastic world similar to our own.

Twelve-year-old Michelle spends the summer with her grandparents in Transylvania, where a gypsy makes a frightening prophecy about her life and death. Michelle doesn’t understand it at the time, but when she returns to California she and her sister, Melissa, are propelled into an unforeseen adventure with their neighbors, brothers Perry and Nathan. In one of the adventure’s many moments of great magical tension, the brothers find a spell book, but their attempt to use it only teleports and strands the four in a foreign desert. The children make their way toward an enormous tree—the Lorn Tree—so large that houses are built on its branches. To their amazement, and in an impressively imaginative setup, the children discover that this is where the desert people live; one of the resident families adopts the children and teaches them about their new surroundings. The kids are eager to learn and to impart their Earth wisdom on their new Lorn friends, and though some chapters lengthily recap Lorn’s history, the characters’ energy makes it easy to root for them. At a festival one night, a fortune-teller recognizes that Michelle is the “Girl with the Golden Hair” who is prophesied to battle to the death with Hellferata, an evil spirit descended from the Greek witch Medusa. Unfortunately, Hellferata also realizes Michelle is a danger, so she sends her son, Dracu Mort, to kill Michelle and vanquish the prophecy. However, since this novel turns out to be continued in another volume, the two large questions (Will they make it home to California? Will they defeat Hellferata?) remain unanswered. In the meantime, though, there are plenty of monster attacks and that offset the many chapters of raw dialogue at the start of the story.

Satisfying action and adventure.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983669500

Page Count: 470

Publisher: Chivileri Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2012

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It’s slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school.


From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 1

In a rousing first novel, already an award-winner in England, Harry is just a baby when his magical parents are done in by Voldemort, a wizard so dastardly other wizards are scared to mention his name.

So Harry is brought up by his mean Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia Dursley, and picked on by his horrid cousin Dudley. He knows nothing about his magical birthright until ten years later, when he learns he’s to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hogwarts is a lot like English boarding school, except that instead of classes in math and grammar, the curriculum features courses in Transfiguration, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Harry becomes the star player of Quidditch, a sort of mid-air ball game. With the help of his new friends Ron and Hermione, Harry solves a mystery involving a sorcerer’s stone that ultimately takes him to the evil Voldemort. This hugely enjoyable fantasy is filled with imaginative details, from oddly flavored jelly beans to dragons’ eggs hatched on the hearth.

It’s slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-590-35340-3

Page Count: 309

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

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 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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