JACKSON & JENKS, MASTER MAGICIANS

Frischman, known for playing Arvid on the TV series Head of the Class, creates a madcap tale with zany twists and turns in his debut children’s novel.

Jamie and Darren, two 15-year-olds in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., work mindless jobs and dream of becoming famous millionaires. As they bumble through magic shows, they realize the fantasy of becoming famed magicians is fading. Then, while shopping in a thrift store, Jamie rubs a bottle and a genie invades the body of a fellow shopper, who tells Jamie that he has three wishes. Jamie and Darren flee from the man, assuming he’s crazy, but later Jamie wishes aloud that he could be the best magician in the world and he’s suddenly able to do tricks that he only dreamed possible—tricks that could never occur without the use of real magic. As the pair’s popularity increases, enemies emerge, taking the boys on a wild ride as the pair attempt to hold onto their status of the world’s greatest magicians. As the police, FBI and a jealous competitor chase the boys, the duo learns important lessons about friendship and fame with surprising magical twists. The book nicely captures the lesson that success requires hard work, something the fame-hungry boys soon realize. Frischman creates a wild adventure; the boys straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa and turn the U.S. president into a guinea pig, while another character becomes an Arabian princess. However, some of writing is awkwardly constructed (“Dark red rivets dressed its ornate neck design”), and Frischman’s depiction of TV personalities seems bitter and mean-spirited, detracting from the fun of the book. A male talk show host calls the female host an “overpaid, brainless ditz” after she admits she thinks their guests are vapid and their movies or TV shows are without merit. But the overall tale is still an enjoyable ride. Frischman crafts an exciting, whimsical story that will entertain adults and children.

 

Pub Date: April 7, 2009

ISBN: 978-0979629600

Page Count: 237

Publisher: J.J. Ross Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more