An ideal read for middle-graders who like plenty of magic and adventure.

Circulus de Potentia

From the Magicae Mathematica series , Vol. 2

West (Libellus de Numeros, 2014) returns with another historical YA novel in his series about young Alex and her continuing adventures in a magical world.

This book picks up after the first volume left off and soon reintroduces Alex, the heroine of the first installment, and her friends, who take part in a celebration for Nosaj, one of many students of Archimedes who helped save the city from outside invaders. Later, a mysterious man comes to the local arena wearing a circlet inscribed with an equation featuring the symbol pi. This causes Archimedes to call upon Alex and her friends to go on a quest to find Pythagoras, perhaps the only man who understands what pi means, so the mystery man can be stopped before he fights all 100 Guardians, the city’s elite fighting force, and wreaks further havoc. Meanwhile, throughout the work, Diades and Demetrius, embittered former apprentices of Archimedes, plot to destroy what the city holds dear and to thwart Archimedes himself. Alex and her friends display courage, ingenuity, and maturity in the face of obstacles, and they know their math, just as they did in the first book of the series. In the end, Archimedes confronts the threat to the city (for now) in a manner that has just as much to do with Alex and her accomplishments as it does with the mystery of pi. She’s about to embark on yet another adventure as the book closes. West never forces mathematics or Latin on readers, but they both exist on the edges of the story. Readers will get comfortable pondering equations for determining volume and square roots, and they may pick up some Latin from the spells that Archimedes’ students use. There’s a looming sense in this book of an impending battle between good and evil, which lends every character’s actions a certain gravity. Overall, the novel is fast-paced and exciting and is a worthy follow-up to the first installment in the series.

An ideal read for middle-graders who like plenty of magic and adventure.

Pub Date: June 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5146-4168-2

Page Count: 232

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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It’s slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school.

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 1

In a rousing first novel, already an award-winner in England, Harry is just a baby when his magical parents are done in by Voldemort, a wizard so dastardly other wizards are scared to mention his name.

So Harry is brought up by his mean Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia Dursley, and picked on by his horrid cousin Dudley. He knows nothing about his magical birthright until ten years later, when he learns he’s to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hogwarts is a lot like English boarding school, except that instead of classes in math and grammar, the curriculum features courses in Transfiguration, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Harry becomes the star player of Quidditch, a sort of mid-air ball game. With the help of his new friends Ron and Hermione, Harry solves a mystery involving a sorcerer’s stone that ultimately takes him to the evil Voldemort. This hugely enjoyable fantasy is filled with imaginative details, from oddly flavored jelly beans to dragons’ eggs hatched on the hearth.

It’s slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-590-35340-3

Page Count: 309

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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