An accessible and fast-paced magical adventure.

UNICORN ISLAND

Help is needed, but is it safe to reveal the secrets of Unicorn Island?

Twelve-year-old Samantha Wells is excited for a regular life after being settled in New York City for a year. But when her mom takes a two-month job as a flautist in Europe and sends Sam off to live with her Uncle Mitch, whom she hasn’t seen in a decade, she shatters Sam’s dreams of stability. Sam travels to South Carolina only to be met by a surprised Uncle Mitch who was not expecting her. Foggy Harbor is a seaside town marked by a nightly mist so heavy it seems magical, and its main street charm includes Dr. Thompson’s veterinary office. The vet’s son, Tuck, becomes fast friends with Sam, and together they discover a secret island hidden in the ocean fog populated by unicorns and a frost-breathing wyvern. When one of the unicorns falls ill, Sam and Tuck know Dr. Thompson can help—but telling her would mean breaching the secret of the unicorns. Sam feels genuine as she deals with the emotional trauma of her mom’s departure and her uncle’s initially cool reception with maturity, and readers will connect with Sam and Tuck’s desire to solve this supernatural mystery. Color illustrations add a dreamy, fairy-tale–like quality while aftermatter expands on different elements of the text. Sam and her family are White; Tuck and his mother are Black.

An accessible and fast-paced magical adventure. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5248-6470-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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