Not nearly as nonconformist—or funny—as the title promises.

NOT SO NORMAL NORBERT

In the United State of Earth, where difference is a disease and creativity is a crime, Norbert cracks a joke—big mistake.

Seventh-grader Norbert Riddle lives a dreary life in Loving Leader’s authoritarian regime, unsuccessfully searching for his parents since they disappeared seven years ago. When he impetuously performs an impression of Loving Leader for his classmates, the Truth Police descend, and Norbert is exiled to “the Astro-Nuts prison on planet Zorquat Three.” Clocking in at 300-plus pages with little real action or humor, this attempt at a humorous twist on the dystopian genre falls short across the board. With just a glimpse of the dictatorship compared to the vast majority of the book describing the prison, some readers will have a difficult time inhabiting Norbert’s perspective—is an ice cream sundae unusual because it’s breakfast or because it’s something he’s never had before? Stilted phrasing, particularly to create tension at the end of chapters, backfires and makes the text drag. Constant use of language casually dismissive of mental diversity assumes an outmoded sensibility. Primary characters are described by hair color and have (paper-) white skin in the illustrations.

Not nearly as nonconformist—or funny—as the title promises. (Dystopian adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-46541-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

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 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem.

MUCH ADO ABOUT BASEBALL

A middle schooler struggles to adjust after moving to an idyllic Massachusetts town.

Trish Das is at a crossroads. Not only is the 12-year-old unhappy that her family has moved yet again due to her mother’s cardiology career, she also has to try out for a new baseball team. The fact that one of her new teammates is a former archrival further complicates matters. Math prodigy Ben Messina went head-to-head against fellow math whiz Trish at last spring’s Math Puzzlers Championship. When Trish emerged victorious, Ben was stunned. The two get closer when the team’s mysterious pregame snacks start making everyone play better while also causing magical side effects during games. Equally surprising are the cryptic puzzle booklets Trish and Ben receive in the mail that lead them to even more wins. But as the puzzles get harder to solve, the risk of failing to do so increases. Alternating between Trish’s and Ben’s perspectives, LaRocca’s novel—a companion to 2019’s Midsummer’s Mayhem—is a Much Ado About Nothing homage that explores parental expectations, complicated friendships, and teamwork. The protagonists’ love of problem-solving shines through, and the puzzles themselves are clearly explained. As a third-generation Indian American, Trish also has moving conversations about the circumstances that led her grandparents to emigrate and how those decisions still impact their lives. Ben is implied White. Final illustrations not seen.

A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1101-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Yellow Jacket

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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