A mostly lukewarm second outing.

TROLL CONTROL

From the Gabby Duran series , Vol. 2

Only two days after her first assignment for the Association Linking Intergalactics and Earthlings as Neighbors, 12-year-old Gabby Duran’s cosmically renowned babysitting skills are called back into service.

Ever enthusiastic, the “Sitter to the Unsittables” quickly befriends a lonely young troll whose penchant for thievery and riddles might just make Gabby the most hated member of the Brensville Middle School orchestra. Plucky, positive, and peppy, Gabby remains a one-dimensional yet likable protagonist. Unfortunately for her and for readers, this follow-up to Gabby Duran and the Unsittables (2015) isn’t all that…adventurous. Most of the novel centers on Gabby’s desperate efforts to recover a rare book to be auctioned off to raise funds for the orchestra, all while trying to adhere to strict policies designed to protect A.L.I.E.N.’s secrecy. She risks termination, but there’s no bounty on her head. There are no dark agents hot on her trail. The stakes somehow feel lower this time around, and both tension and intrigue suffer. While the cast of secondary characters remains largely underutilized, one of the best parts about this sequel is that Gabby’s best friend, Zee, is given a slightly larger role than before. With her love of science and gadgetry, Zee is perfectly suited to take part in the alien escapades and to remind preteen readers that it’s cool for girls to be passionate about STEM.

A mostly lukewarm second outing. (Science fiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-0936-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

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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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