THE SUMMER OF MOONLIGHT SECRETS

Haworth takes the legend of the Selkie and gives it a modern-day twist. Twelve-year-old Allie Jo lives in Florida at her parents’ famous antebellum hotel, The Meriwether. Her plans for a quiet summer are thwarted after she catches 13-year-old Chase, a guest at the hotel, skateboarding on the hotel’s historic wooden floors. Despite this inauspicious beginning, the two fall into an easy friendship, with Allie Jo showing Chase the town’s attractions and the charms of the hotel. When Allie Jo and Chase meet a mysterious girl, Tara, who claims she is a Selkie on the run from the man who stole her sealskin, the two friends rise to the challenge and help Tara get her skin back. The author sets a quick pace in short chapters alternating among Allie Jo, Chase and Tara. The two kids take turns narrating in a colloquial present tense, while the author maintains a magical frisson by presenting Tara’s chapters in a stately, third-person voice. Although predictable, the mix of fantasy and light mystery makes for an entertaining read. Fans of Liz Kessler’s Emily Windsnap will enjoy this amusing tale. (Magical adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9520-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Native readers will see themselves as necessary heroes while readers of all walks will want to be their accomplices.

RACE TO THE SUN

A Diné teen teams up with her younger brother and her best friend to battle monsters threatening their world.

After seventh grader Nizhoni Begay senses a monster lurking in the stands during her basketball game, she tells her younger brother, Mac. When the monster kidnaps her father as part of a multilayered plot to lure her brother—the only one who knows her monster-spotting abilities—into servitude, kill her, and destroy the world, Nizhoni seeks help from her biracial best friend, Davery, whose mother is African American, his father, Diné. Aided by Mr. Yazzie, a stuffed horned-toad toy that can talk, and a cast of characters from Diné culture, the three kids embark on an adventurous trek to free Dad and stop the monsters. But even with powers inherited from monster-slaying ancestors, assistance from Holy People, and weapons fashioned from the Sun, Nizhoni will need to believe in herself while sacrificing what’s most important if she hopes to succeed. Fans of Hugo and Nebula winner Roanhorse (Ohkay Owingeh) will appreciate her fast-paced prose, page-turning chapter endings, and, most of all, strong female protagonist. By reimagining a traditional story in a contemporary context, populating it with faceted Native characters, and centering it on and around the Navajo Nation, Roanhorse shows that Native stories are active and alive.

Native readers will see themselves as necessary heroes while readers of all walks will want to be their accomplices. (glossary of Navajo terms, author’s note) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02466-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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