THE EXTRAORDINARY CURIOSITIES OF IXWORTH AND MADDOX

An inventive book that offers wit, eccentric worldbuilding, and a look at magic’s dark side.

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In Grolic’s middle-grade fantasy, a young girl is caught up in a threat to London’s hidden world of magic.

The author pulls readers in from the start with a description of the mysterious, soon-to-open Extraordinary Curiosities shop, located on a narrow London lane. When 11-year-old Chloe Ashley ducks into the place after school to avoid the rain, she’s surprised to find tiny, pointy-eared folk, tidying up and arranging shelves of oddities. After Chloe meets the magician proprietors of the shop—Mr. Ixworth (short and tweedy, “with one of those funny I’ve a bit of chocolate on my lip’ moustaches”) and tall, nattily dressed Mr. Maddox (who’s never “one to use one word when two would do”)—it’s clear that her life will never be the same. Thrilled to discover that magic is real, Chloe is clued into wondrous merchandise that’s ordinarily shown only to magicians, including a magical flying taxi, spectacles that reveal “the paths of the departed,” and a “Memory Desk” for the forgetful. She becomes a welcome visitor to the shop and, before long, Mr. Maddox’s apprentice. One day, after Chloe is followed by a skeletal man with sharklike teeth, she finds that Mr. Ixworth is nowhere to be found. His nemesis, Oswin Blythe, is suspected of being behind other disappearances, but could there be a different, more horrific explanation? The author increases the momentum and the stakes of the story by widening the world of magicians, showing how they occupy strictly bordered realms, which they can lose through death, departure, or intrigue. Clever magical elements pepper the plot, including a spell-conjured pond, magic-detecting fish, travel via hat-rack, and comical and deadly potions. The character of Chloe, meanwhile, retains a relatable, human dimension; readers will relate to her plight as an outsider at school and as a daughter of busy parents who don’t take much notice of her, and this characterization gives believable weight to later, life-threatening tests of her intelligence and inner strength. Luckily, the author leaves some questions unanswered, making room for a sequel. 

An inventive book that offers wit, eccentric worldbuilding, and a look at magic’s dark side.

Pub Date: May 1, 2023

ISBN: 9781738870707

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

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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  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE CHRISTMAS PIG

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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  • New York Times Bestseller


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A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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