A realistic tale of coming to terms and coming-of-age, of friendship and loss, with a touch of magic and humor.

THE WHISPERS

The Whispers know all the secrets of the universe. If they’re real, can they help Riley find Mama?

Eleven-year-old Riley’s mother has been missing for four months. The Fat Bald Detective that Riley sees weekly for questioning has made no progress in the case. Riley’s father, older brother, and grandparents don’t talk about Mama’s absence, which doesn’t help matters. Riley has begun wetting the bed, which he calls his “condition,” but there’s this “other condition” that he fears may be the reason his mother left or was taken: Riley wants to kiss boys rather than talk with his best friend, Gary, about a female classmate’s "miraculously inflated boobs." Riley is convinced the Whispers, unseen creatures from his mother’s favorite story, will accept an offering in return for his heart’s desire—his mother’s return—which drives the plot, along with Riley’s exploration of his identity as a gay preteen in the rural South. Howard places unreliable-narrator Riley at the center of his middle-grade debut. The slow reveal of what actually happened to Mama leads to a satisfying and touching conclusion, one that careful young readers may see before it arrives. Riley and his family are white; Gary is biracial (black/white); their classmates in their small South Carolina town are diverse.

A realistic tale of coming to terms and coming-of-age, of friendship and loss, with a touch of magic and humor. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51749-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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