An intriguing, fast-paced fantasy adventure.

LIA PARK AND THE MISSING JEWEL

From the Lia Park series , Vol. 1

A Korean American tween unlocks hidden magical powers to fulfill her destiny and save her family from a vengeful ancient spirit.

Twelve-year-old Lia Park aspires to one day work at the International Magic Agency, fighting monsters and protecting the world. But Lia’s unsure about her future because, unlike best friend Joon, she hasn’t yet manifested any magical abilities. Before she can take the annual entrance exam for the IMA school, her skills are unexpectedly tested when she discovers her California home ransacked and her parents missing. A message to bring Gaya the missing jewel in exchange for her parents leaves her confused and bewildered: She has no idea who Gaya is or what jewel the kidnapper is talking about. Following clues left by her parents, Lia travels with Joon to Korea to find the jewel that will save her family. While motivated to solve the mystery, Lia also becomes frustrated that her parents’ overprotectiveness kept her from knowing the truth about her powers and the threat Gaya poses. Tense scenes set up the high stakes involved in her quest. This contemporary tale incorporates Korean history, national landmarks, and mythology in an engaging way. Korean words and phrases are also woven throughout the text, reinforcing Lia’s connection to her culture and its integral role in the story.

An intriguing, fast-paced fantasy adventure. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8793-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Entrancing and uplifting.

STAY

A small dog, the elderly woman who owns him, and a homeless girl come together to create a tale of serendipity.

Piper, almost 12, her parents, and her younger brother are at the bottom of a long slide toward homelessness. Finally in a family shelter, Piper finds that her newfound safety gives her the opportunity to reach out to someone who needs help even more. Jewel, mentally ill, lives in the park with her dog, Baby. Unwilling to leave her pet, and forbidden to enter the shelter with him, she struggles with the winter weather. Ree, also homeless and with a large dog, helps when she can, but after Jewel gets sick and is hospitalized, Baby’s taken to the animal shelter, and Ree can’t manage the complex issues alone. It’s Piper, using her best investigative skills, who figures out Jewel’s backstory. Still, she needs all the help of the shelter Firefly Girls troop that she joins to achieve her accomplishment: to raise enough money to provide Jewel and Baby with a secure, hopeful future and, maybe, with their kindness, to inspire a happier story for Ree. Told in the authentic alternating voices of loving child and loyal dog, this tale could easily slump into a syrupy melodrama, but Pyron lets her well-drawn characters earn their believable happy ending, step by challenging step, by reaching out and working together. Piper, her family, and Jewel present white; Pyron uses hair and naming convention, respectively, to cue Ree as black and Piper’s friend Gabriela as Latinx.

Entrancing and uplifting. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-283922-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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