A carefully constructed interweaving of reality and magic that will transport and delight.

RIVER MAGIC

The river near her home in Maine is central to everything real and magic in Donna’s life.

Donna is mourning the drowning death of her beloved aunt Annabelle, who was her mentor, guide, and inspiration. Now things are falling apart; there are huge bills to pay, and her mom is considering sending Donna to a hated relative for the summer. Donna’s sister is nasty and hateful, and her best friend is drifting away. Dealing with all this is difficult enough, but an awful lot of strange things are happening. There is a voice in Donna’s head that seems to be Annabelle’s. Kids at school speak of pixies and ley lines. Vilma, an older woman who is a new neighbor, turns out to be an extremely powerful thunder mage; Margily, a river dragon, carries her on thunder forays. The magic builds slowly at first, but the pace quickens with twists and turns galore. Enemies become friends, and new friends are recognized, especially previously despised classmate Hillyard. There is greed, danger, breathtaking adventure, and even humor and joy. Donna narrates her tale, voicing her feelings, reactions, and confusion. Readers will recognize her as a kindred spirit and root for her all the way to a satisfying conclusion. The book situates Whiteness as the default.

A carefully constructed interweaving of reality and magic that will transport and delight. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-42804-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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