A mixed bag: Fights and reveals are lackluster, but the stars and steampunk glow.

THE STAR SHEPHERD

Stars are falling, and the people who usually send them back up aren’t able.

Kyro’s father, Tirin, works as a Star Shepherd. He watches the skies all night. When a star falls to Earth nearby, Kyro and Tirin run outdoors, scoop it up, and catapult it back to the sky before dawn. Each star is different: One’s a “strange, molten thing, with light leaking out over its curves”; another “shimmer[s] like liquid silver but [i]s as light as a handful of feathers.” But something’s wrong: Stars are falling in daylight and in clusters, the gaps they leave in the dark sky allowing ancient, evil creatures into the world. When Tirin disappears, Kyro, with pal Andra (a girl who’s more supportiveness trope than person), embarks on a desperate journey to find his father. The plot begins as a wondrous celestial fable with some steampunk elements—cogs and gears; clockwork; star cases of “glass and metal with hooks built into the design and angled just right to catch on the edges of the sky.” But it morphs surprisingly and disappointingly into a story of combat featuring sentient, mechanical giants and fire-breathing spiders with slimy black webbing. The final battle slogs, and the plot’s reveals are reported listlessly. However, the star premise shines throughout. Kyro, Tirin, and Andra seem white or light-skinned.

A mixed bag: Fights and reveals are lackluster, but the stars and steampunk glow. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5820-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A young tennis champion becomes the target of revenge.

In this sequel to Legacy and the Queen (2019), Legacy Petrin and her friends Javi and Pippa have returned to Legacy’s home province and the orphanage run by her father. With her friends’ help, she is in training to defend her championship when they discover that another player, operating under the protection of High Consul Silla, is presenting herself as Legacy. She is so convincing that the real Legacy is accused of being an imitation. False Legacy has become a hero to the masses, further strengthening Silla’s hold, and it becomes imperative to uncover and defeat her. If Legacy is to win again, she must play her imposter while disguised as someone else. Winning at tennis is not just about money and fame, but resisting Silla’s plans to send more young people into brutal mines with little hope of better lives. Legacy will have to overcome her fears and find the magic that allowed her to claim victory in the past. This story, with its elements of sports, fantasy, and social consciousness that highlight tensions between the powerful and those they prey upon, successfully continues the series conceived by late basketball superstar Bryant. As before, the tennis matches are depicted with pace and spirit. Legacy and Javi have brown skin; most other characters default to White.

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949520-19-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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