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From the Misewa Saga series , Vol. 3

A mostly satisfying return.

Twinned expeditions into the northern woods drive this third installment in The Misewa Saga.

When last readers saw Cree teen Morgan, she had just woken up next to Eli under the Great Tree that is their portal from their foster parents’ Winnipeg attic into the magical land of Askí. The colossal footprints that lead from her foster brother’s unresponsive body can only mean that the giant Mistapew has stolen Eli’s soul, and it’s up to Morgan to get it back. Soon Morgan and the squirrel Arik are trudging north with Eli’s inert body on a sled. They are accompanied by a White girl named Emily, a new school friend whom Morgan’s hastily brought through the portal to help (and who becomes something more than friend as they go). This journey is mirrored by a subsequent trip north on Earth so that Morgan can meet her kókom, the old woman who’s now her only surviving biological forbear. The shift from race-against-time fantasy adventure to a more mundane car excursion may throw readers, but Morgan’s grief at the newfound loss of the mother she’d been taken from years ago forms a unifying throughline. Robertson (Norway House Cree Nation) has a lot of narrative balls in the air in this outing, and they don’t all stay there—in particular, the time-travel mechanism becomes quite convoluted—but the story’s emotional arc shines true.

A mostly satisfying return. (map, glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6616-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Puffin/Tundra Book Group

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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A captivating book situated in present-day discourse around the refugee crisis, featuring two boys who stand by their high...

Two parallel stories, one of a Syrian boy from Aleppo fleeing war, and another of a white American boy, son of a NATO contractor, dealing with the challenges of growing up, intersect at a house in Brussels.

Ahmed lost his father while crossing the Mediterranean. Alone and broke in Europe, he takes things into his own hands to get to safety but ends up having to hide in the basement of a residential house. After months of hiding, he is discovered by Max, a boy of similar age and parallel high integrity and courage, who is experiencing his own set of troubles learning a new language, moving to a new country, and being teased at school. In an unexpected turn of events, the two boys and their new friends Farah, a Muslim Belgian girl, and Oscar, a white Belgian boy, successfully scheme for Ahmed to go to school while he remains in hiding the rest of the time. What is at stake for Ahmed is immense, and so is the risk to everyone involved. Marsh invites art and history to motivate her protagonists, drawing parallels to gentiles who protected Jews fleeing Nazi terror and citing present-day political news. This well-crafted and suspenseful novel touches on the topics of refugees and immigrant integration, terrorism, Islam, Islamophobia, and the Syrian war with sensitivity and grace.

A captivating book situated in present-day discourse around the refugee crisis, featuring two boys who stand by their high values in the face of grave risk and succeed in drawing goodwill from others. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-30757-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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