Rowling’s name on the cover will guarantee mad sales, even for an unadventurous spinoff like this.

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD

THE OFFICIAL SCRIPT BOOK OF THE ORIGINAL WEST END PRODUCTION

The Boy Who Lived may be done with Voldemort, but Voldemort’s not done with him.

Blocked out by all three co-authors but written by Thorne, this play script starts up where Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007) leaves off, then fast-forwards three years. As the plot involves multiple jaunts into the past to right certain wrongs (with all but the last changing the future in disastrous ways), the last Triwizard Tournament and other already-familiar events and locales figure prominently. Also, many favorite characters, even Dumbledore and Snape, trot back onstage to mingle with the now–school-age offspring of Ron, Harry, and Draco. In a fan-fiction–style stretch, the child of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named also plays a part. In the early going at least, the authors faithfully recapture the series’ lively character interplay, and one scene aboard (and atop) the Hogwarts Express particularly echoes some of the original cast’s heady misadventures. And there are measures of banter, tongue-in-cheek dialogue (“HERMIONE: Who are you calling intense?”), and evocative if skimpy stage directions: “[Harry] feels intense pain in his forehead. In his scar. Around him, Dark Magic moves.” But the spellcasting and dramatic crescendos don’t play as well on the page as they might on the stage; the dozens of short, quick-cut scenes chop up the action for readers rather than building dramatic tension. Moreover, the bonding between classmates Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, two self-described “losers,” and the adult Harry’s labored efforts to connect with his alienated middle child distract from a dark-is-rising-again storyline that already leans on unlikely contrivances as it makes its way to a climactic wizardly duel.

Rowling’s name on the cover will guarantee mad sales, even for an unadventurous spinoff like this. (Fantasy. 10 & up)

Pub Date: July 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-338-09913-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2016

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Tales that “lay out your options for painful and interesting ways to die.” And to live.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK HEROES

In a similarly hefty companion to Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods (2014), the most voluble of Poseidon’s many sons dishes on a dozen more ancient relatives and fellow demigods.

Riordan averts his young yarn spinner’s eyes from the sex but not the stupidity, violence, malice, or bad choices that drive so many of the old tales. He leavens full, refreshingly tart accounts of the ups and downs of such higher-profile heroes as Theseus, Orpheus, Hercules, and Jason with the lesser-known but often equally awesome exploits of such butt-kicking ladies as Atalanta, Otrera (the first Amazon), and lion-wrestling Cyrene. In thought-provoking contrast, Psyche comes off as no less heroic, even though her story is less about general slaughter than the tough “Iron Housewives quests” Aphrodite forces her to undertake to rescue her beloved Eros. Furthermore, along with snarky chapter heads (“Phaethon Fails Driver’s Ed”), the contemporary labor includes references to Jay-Z, Apple Maps, god-to-god texting, and the like—not to mention the way the narrator makes fun of hard-to-pronounce names and points up such character flaws as ADHD (Theseus) and anger management issues (Hercules). The breezy treatment effectively blows off at least some of the dust obscuring the timeless themes in each hero’s career. In Rocco’s melodramatically murky illustrations, men and women alike display rippling thews and plenty of skin as they battle ravening monsters.

Tales that “lay out your options for painful and interesting ways to die.” And to live. (maps, index) (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8365-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

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GIRL'S BEST FRIEND

From the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries series

In this series debut, Maggie Sinclair tracks down a dognapper and solves a mystery about the noises in the walls of her Brooklyn brownstone apartment building. The 12-year-old heroine, who shares a middle name—Brooklyn—with her twin brother, Finn, is juggling two dogwalking jobs she’s keeping secret from her parents, and somehow she attracts the ire of the dogs’ former walker. Maggie tells her story in the first person—she’s self-possessed and likable, even when her clueless brother invites her ex–best friend, now something of an enemy, to their shared 12th birthday party. Maggie’s attention to details helps her to figure out why dogs seem to be disappearing and why there seem to be mice in the walls of her building, though astute readers will pick up on the solution to at least one mystery before Maggie solves it. There’s a brief nod to Nancy Drew, but the real tensions in this contemporary preteen story are more about friendship and boy crushes than skullduggery. Still, the setting is appealing, and Maggie is a smart and competent heroine whose personal life is just as interesting as—if not more than—her detective work. (Mystery. 10-13)

   

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 967-1-59990-525-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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