Extraordinary—not to be missed.

THE LANGUAGE OF SPELLS

Set primarily in Vienna, this middle-grade novel explores themes of honor and courage as it tells the story of a friendship between a young girl and a dragon.

Grisha, a dragon, was born in the Black Forest in 1803, a time when magic was still commonplace. When a powerful sorcerer’s enchantment turns Grisha into a teapot, he can still see and hear, but he cannot move or speak. After many decades, which include the two human world wars, Grisha is freed and travels to Vienna, where he has heard that dragons are congregating—but soon after he arrives, many of the dragons mysteriously disappear. He meets 11-year-old Maggie, who lives in Vienna’s Sacher Hotel with her poet father. Grisha is pleased and gratified that Maggie can see him since, by now, humans have become so busy and preoccupied that they no longer see what they don’t wish to see, which includes dragons and magic in general—one of many equally graceful observations that amplify this delicate, original story into something much more than its plot. The two become friends and determine to find the missing dragons. Weyr’s deft, assured narrative is interwoven with dry humor and percipient observations as it explores the value of seeing magic in one’s life as well as the honor of sacrifice. Harnett’s evocative black-and-white illustrations add atmospheric richness, depicting its human cast as white Europeans.

Extraordinary—not to be missed. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5958-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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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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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

From the Keeper of the Lost Cities series , Vol. 1

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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