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Fans who earlier fell in love with gutsy Lailu and her cooking exploits may be disappointed in this convoluted sequel.

In this follow-up to A Dash of Dragon (2017), young chef-apprentice Lailu Loganberry must get to the bottom of a murder mystery before war breaks out between scientists and elves.

On the first day of the Week of Masks, a celebration “to ward off evil spirits,” Lailu and her mentor cater the royal executioner’s party opening the observance. Lailu’s determined to prepare an amazing griffin meal the aristocrats won’t forget. While Lailu’s feast is eaten “with enthusiasm,” the highlight is undoubtedly head scientist Starling Volan’s demonstration of an automaton that acts as server, entertainer, or protector at the touch of a button. Unlike the captivated audience, Lailu is anxious knowing Starling is in possession of such a dangerous tool. But for the time being, Lailu has other things on her mind, notably her growing feelings for “one-time-rival turned sort-of friend” Greg and her mother’s unexpected appearance. Things come to a head when Lailu and Greg discover a dead scientist while out hunting hydra. A furious Starling suspects the elves—and then an elf is found murdered. Full of imaginative detail, the second installment of Lailu’s adventures has its fair share of plot twists and nail-biting monster hunts. However, the ensemble cast and multiple plot threads are hard to track. The book seems to subscribe to the white default.

Fans who earlier fell in love with gutsy Lailu and her cooking exploits may be disappointed in this convoluted sequel. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7795-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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From the Middle School and Other Disasters series , Vol. 1

Serves up light sorcery mixed with middle school friendships.

With her witch mom and human dad, Heidi Heckelbeck was first introduced to readers in a long-running eponymous series about her elementary school life.

Now she’s off to middle school at Broomsfield Academy, her mom’s alma mater. The boarding school, ostensibly an ordinary one, secretly provides special classes for witches and wizards. Those with magical talents must keep them secret, but that’s hard for Heidi. To her great dismay, her “broommate” is her nemesis from home, Melanie Maplethorpe. Is the rude, mean girl of her nightmares also a witch? Despite the rules against using magic outside her special classes, Heidi uses her powers to play a prank on Melanie, whose music is too loud. When the girls are partnered during Broommate Bonding Day, they find out that they are more alike than they think—but that doesn’t mean it’s completely smooth sailing ahead, especially when both of them have crushes on the same boy. There are sweet, detailed, grayscale illustrations scattered throughout, and many of Heidi’s thoughts are emphasized in different type sizes. The story moves quickly, and it may particularly appeal to reluctant readers. Loyal readers of the first series can easily transition to this, and others looking for an accessible read with a touch of magic will also enjoy it. Heidi and Melanie appear White; some secondary characters bring racial diversity.

Serves up light sorcery mixed with middle school friendships. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 30, 2023

ISBN: 9781665925280

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon Spotlight

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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