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ROLO THE PET EARTHLING

A well-illustrated and often clever adventure with entertaining twists and turns.

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In Ness’s debut middle-grade novel, an alien keeps a human as a pet.

Zira, a young, green-skinned “blorxling” with antennae, has “been begging her mom for decades” for a pet. She asks her older brother, Lazro, to convince their mother to let her get an earthling. Lazro does so, but keeps it a secret, as does Riffa, Zira’s older sister. Zira is surprised with an earthling named Rolo, who’s content in his situation. He’s fed “goopy food” and walks his own tiny green pet, Quiggles. One day, Rolo sees “animal rights activists” with signs saying that “Earthlings Have Rights Too.” He wonders: Were there always earthlings on Blorx? Later, he asks his earthling friends, “don’t you ever wonder if maybe there’s something more?” He unintentionally draws the attention of earthling catchers (“Animal Control Force”) for violating a civil regulation that “requires earthlings to be under direct supervision of their owners or wranglers at all times in public.” Rolo flees, but the earthling catchers, Zira, and Riffa chase after him; the chase gives readers an overview of Blorx and the military might of the Animal Control Force. Eventually, Rolo and company meet Grandam Zananna, a curator at a science museum who shares information about earthlings. Young pet owners will easily understand moments that parallel how real-life human beings relate to their pets; early in the story, for instance, Rolo is pictured in a dark “cardboard box, with just a little ambient light shining from the twelve round air holes near the top.” Kids will be kept in suspense throughout Rolo’s adventures, however, and remain curious about his fate. Ness’ story has unimaginative details at times, as with place names such as “Blorfrica,” “Blurope,” and “Blasia.” However, Komarenko’s cartoon images will delight children with their colorful and creative renderings of blorxlings and other creatures.

A well-illustrated and often clever adventure with entertaining twists and turns.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2023

ISBN: 9798988037101

Page Count: 170

Publisher: Zira Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2023

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LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

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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NURA AND THE IMMORTAL PALACE

An enthralling fantasy debut exploring exploitation by those in power.

Will 12-year-old Nura be able to outsmart the trickster jinn and save herself and her friends?

Nura lives in the fictional Pakistani town of Meerabagh, where she has worked mining mica to help support her family of five—her mother, herself, and her three younger siblings—since her father’s death. In the mines she has the company of her best friend, Faisal, who is teased by other kids for his stutter, and she enjoys small pleasures like splurging on gulab jamun. Although Maa wants Nura to stop working and attend school, she has no interest in classroom learning and hopes to save up to send her younger siblings to school instead so they can break the family’s cycle of poverty. Following a mining accident in which Faisal and others are lost in the rubble, Nura goes to the rescue. In her quest, she is plunged into the magical, glittering jinn realm, where nothing is as it seems. The author seamlessly weaves into the worldbuilding of the story commentary on real-life problems such as the ravages of child labor and systems that perpetuate inequities. An informative author’s note further explores present-day global cycles of oppression as well as the life-changing power of education. This action-packed story set in a Muslim community moves at a fast pace, with evocative writing that brings the fantasy world to life and lyrical imagery to describe emotions.

An enthralling fantasy debut exploring exploitation by those in power. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5795-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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