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From the ChupaCarter series , Vol. 1

Frights and fun in equal measure.

Having a 7-foot-tall blood-sucking secret friend understandably complicates 12-year-old Jorge’s life.

To kick off their middle-grade series, celebrity comedian Lopez and his co-author Calejo send young Chicano Angeleno Jorge Lopez to his abuelos in remotest New Mexico—where, as if being threatened by his new school’s deranged White principal in an office festooned with animal trophies isn’t scary enough, he stumbles on a toothy and terrifying monster in the local woods. Carter, as the cryptid introduces himself, turns out to be just a lonely young chupacabra separated from his family and hiding out from both human hunters and also a questing pack of vicious vampire dogs called dips. In a narrative punctuated with wisecracks and flavored with Spanish phrases and slang, Jorge’s struggles with his own tendency to respond smartly to taunts and bullying parallel strenuous efforts to keep his new friend’s existence secret. His failure at both (though by the end he does seem a little better at impulse control) drives a plot laden with both comical situations and hair-raising brushes with death…including no less than two near misses for Jorge from the aforementioned school official. By the end, though, Carter has been bundled off to safety in Mexico, and Jorge has two staunch allies at school in vegan activist Liza, who reads as Black, and Ernie, identified as Native American. Dialogue and punchlines spill over into Gutiérrez’s droll illustrations.

Frights and fun in equal measure. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46597-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

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 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem.

A middle schooler struggles to adjust after moving to an idyllic Massachusetts town.

Trish Das is at a crossroads. Not only is the 12-year-old unhappy that her family has moved yet again due to her mother’s cardiology career, she also has to try out for a new baseball team. The fact that one of her new teammates is a former archrival further complicates matters. Math prodigy Ben Messina went head-to-head against fellow math whiz Trish at last spring’s Math Puzzlers Championship. When Trish emerged victorious, Ben was stunned. The two get closer when the team’s mysterious pregame snacks start making everyone play better while also causing magical side effects during games. Equally surprising are the cryptic puzzle booklets Trish and Ben receive in the mail that lead them to even more wins. But as the puzzles get harder to solve, the risk of failing to do so increases. Alternating between Trish’s and Ben’s perspectives, LaRocca’s novel—a companion to 2019’s Midsummer’s Mayhem—is a Much Ado About Nothing homage that explores parental expectations, complicated friendships, and teamwork. The protagonists’ love of problem-solving shines through, and the puzzles themselves are clearly explained. As a third-generation Indian American, Trish also has moving conversations about the circumstances that led her grandparents to emigrate and how those decisions still impact their lives. Ben is implied White. Final illustrations not seen.

A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1101-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Yellow Jacket

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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