In an era where athletes are worshipped like gods, this book’s creators are simply on-brand.


From the Epoca series , Vol. 1

Conceptualized by Academy Award–winning basketball player Kobe Bryant and written by author and athlete Claire, this amiable novel aims high in its worldbuilding.

And complicated it is, from the parentage of the 10-year-old protagonists on up. Princess Pretia Praxis-Onera is the tan-skinned, black-haired, green-eyed, and mixed-heritage daughter of the scandalously wed rulers of the kingdom of Epoca, and Rovi Myrios is the sun-tanned, orphaned street-urchin son of Pallas Myrios, a once-legendary, then disgraced-and-exiled Visualization Trainer. Pretia’s and Rovi’s lives intertwine when Epoca’s sacred scrolls state they are chosen to train at Ecrof Academy, the premiere training school for athletes. There, both attempt to come to terms with their familial and personal pasts as they learn to harness their granas, or divinely granted talents. The narrative constantly reminds readers that this book emulates the capital-A athlete, both via its harkening back to ancient Greece—witness the highly borrowed or derivative names of both places, like the Athletos Stadium and Mount Oly, and people such as Queen Helena and King Airos—and the item the main characters covet: a pair of golden sneakers called Grana Gleams. In and around all this, however, the creator and author spin an interesting, quickly paced tale.

In an era where athletes are worshipped like gods, this book’s creators are simply on-brand. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949520-07-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

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This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative,...


From the Legendary Alston Boys series , Vol. 1

Can this really be the first time readers meet the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County? Cousins and veteran sleuths Otto and Sheed Alston show us that we are the ones who are late to their greatness.

These two black boys are coming to terms with the end of their brave, heroic summer at Grandma’s, with a return to school just right around the corner. They’ve already got two keys to the city, but the rival Epic Ellisons—twin sisters Wiki and Leen—are steadily gaining celebrity across Logan County, Virginia, and have in hand their third key to the city. No way summer can end like this! These young people are powerful, courageous, experienced adventurers molded through their heroic commitment to discipline and deduction. They’ve got their shared, lifesaving maneuvers committed to memory (printed in a helpful appendix) and ready to save any day. Save the day they must, as a mysterious, bendy gentleman and an oversized, clingy platypus have been unleashed on the city of Fry, and all the residents and their belongings seem to be frozen in time and place. Will they be able to solve this one? With total mastery, Giles creates in Logan County an exuberant vortex of weirdness, where the commonplace sits cheek by jowl with the utterly fantastic, and populates it with memorable characters who more than live up to their setting.

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative, thrill-seeking readers, this is a series to look out for. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-46083-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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On equal footing with a garden-variety potato.


The new kid in school endures becoming the school mascot.

Ben Hardy has never cared for potatoes, and this distaste has become a barrier to adjusting to life in his new Idaho town. His school’s mascot is the Spud, and after a series of misfortunes, Ben is enlisted to don the potato costume and cheer on his school’s team. Ben balances his duties as a life-sized potato against his desperate desire to hide the fact that he’s the dork in the suit. After all, his cute new crush, Jayla, wouldn’t be too impressed to discover Ben’s secret. The ensuing novel is a fairly boilerplate middle–grade narrative: snarky tween protagonist, the crush that isn’t quite what she seems, and a pair of best friends that have more going on than our hero initially believes. The author keeps the novel moving quickly, pushing forward with witty asides and narrative momentum so fast that readers won’t really mind that the plot’s spine is one they’ve encountered many times before. Once finished, readers will feel little resonance and move on to the next book in their to-read piles, but in the moment the novel is pleasant enough. Ben, Jayla, and Ben’s friend Hunter are white while Ellie, Ben’s other good pal, is Latina.

On equal footing with a garden-variety potato. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11866-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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