All aboard for fantasy lovers with a dual penchant for girl power and keeping up with the Indiana Joneses.

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THE SECRETS OF SOLACE

An orphan in a mountain stronghold of cultural archivists uncovers secrets.

Lina Winterbock of Ortana in the land of Solace is disheveled, in perpetual trouble, and a loner. Her only solace in Solace is an airship she finds in a cave impenetrable by anyone with adult proportions. As an apprentice training to catalog objects catapulted into Solace from other worlds, she wants to restore the ship to prove her worth as an “explorer archivist”—a title of her own design. Outside the neutrality of Ortana, two royal families wage war, and Ozben, the secondary heir of one dynasty, is secreted to Ortana for safeguarding. Lina learns Ozben’s true identity, and the two discover that sharing a secret (his blue blood, her airship) heals their loneliness. It also makes them both targets for assassination. In this world, women in positions of power and prestige are prevalent and unquestioned. The third-person narration alternates between Lina and Ozben as they combat adversaries and further comprehend the strength of their special bond. Not as steampunk-y as Johnson’s Mark of the Dragonfly (2014), this is still an engaging world rich in detail, mayhem, and adventure. And though there is slight overlap between this and Dragonfly, it is sturdy as a stand-alone.

All aboard for fantasy lovers with a dual penchant for girl power and keeping up with the Indiana Joneses. (map, acknowledgments) (Fantasy. 11-15)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-37648-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Readers will be irresistibly drawn into Harry's world by GrandPre's comic illustrations and Rowling's expert combination of...

HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998) brings back the doughty young wizard-in-training to face suspicious adults, hostile classmates, fretful ghosts, rambunctious spells, giant spiders, and even an avatar of Lord Voldemort, the evil sorcerer who killed his parents, while saving the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from a deadly, mysterious menace.

Ignoring a most peculiar warning, Harry kicks off his second year at Hogwarts after a dreadful summer with his hateful guardians, the Dursleys, and is instantly cast into a whirlwind of magical pranks and misadventures, culminating in a visit to the hidden cavern where his friend Ron's little sister Ginny lies, barely alive, in a trap set by his worst enemy. Surrounded by a grand mix of wise and inept faculty, sneering or loyal peers—plus an array of supernatural creatures including Nearly Headless Nick and a huge, serpentine basilisk—Harry steadily rises to every challenge, and though he plays but one match of the gloriously chaotic field game Quidditch, he does get in plenty of magic and a bit of swordplay on his way to becoming a hero again.

Readers will be irresistibly drawn into Harry's world by GrandPre's comic illustrations and Rowling's expert combination of broad boarding school farce and high fantasy. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 2, 1999

ISBN: 0-439-06486-4

Page Count: 341

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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