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CONJURE ISLAND

A rich window into a unique cultural community.

A family emergency sends a tween to live with a relative she didn’t know existed and who holds the secret to her beloved grandmother’s past.

Eleven-year-old Delphinia Baker is used to being uprooted. Her dad’s in the military, and changing duty stations means Del and her grandmother must pack up and move too. However, when Gramma suddenly falls ill, Del’s world changes unimaginably. With her father deployed, she’s sent to stay with Nana Rose, Gramma’s mother, on one of South Carolina’s Sea Islands. Nana Rose runs a boarding school dedicated to keeping the lore and traditions of the Gullah people alive, including conjure magic. Del is skeptical about magic, and her worries about Gramma plus the island’s isolation weigh on her mind. The school, the teachers, and even the other students feel strange. Eva, Del’s roommate, is friendly, but Del is reluctant to open up to her. Soon it becomes clear that the magic is real, and Del is determined to discover why Gramma kept this part of her life hidden. Her struggles to work magic cause her to worry whether she will ever understand her family’s past—and land her in some precarious situations. Following her acclaimed debut, Root Magic (2021), Royce offers readers another strong fantasy steeped in Gullah culture, featuring mythic creatures, ghosts, and brooms that facilitate spells. Del is a fully realized protagonist who convincingly changes from a wary observer to a young person embracing her heritage.

A rich window into a unique cultural community. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 27, 2023

ISBN: 9780062899613

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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FAKER

Glitzy glimpses of life on the make, lightened by a focus on alternatives rather than consequences.

A con man’s son yearns for a different way of life.

Having helped his single dad fleece wealthy marks since kindergarten, Trey is adept at spotting their rich offspring in each new school he attends and cultivating them until the time comes for a quick getaway. Now that he’s 12, though, the urge to make real friends and put down some roots has become insistent—particularly since he’s drawn to Kaylee, a new classmate in his latest middle school. How can he convince his dad, who’s in the midst of luring local investors into a fantastically lucrative scheme involving a fictive electric car, that it’s time to bag the family profession and settle down? Korman goes more for ironic humor than the physical or stand-up sort in this book, as shown by Trey’s enrollment in an ethics class that forces him into some decidedly hypocritical stances. Much like Trey himself, instant new bestie Logan and his parents turn out to be not at all who they seem. And though there are no bullies or real baddies in the cast on the way to the story’s rosy but implausible resolution, Trey’s malign, high-strung, and wildly reckless huckster of a little sister from hell definitely adds both conflict and suspense to this provocative outing. Main characters read white.

Glitzy glimpses of life on the make, lightened by a focus on alternatives rather than consequences. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781338826753

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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