Handsomely designed but, even as media tie-ins go, thin sauce.

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EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE AND FASCINATING PLACES

From the J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World: Movie Magic series , Vol. 1

Glimpses of sets, costumes, and characters from the Harry Potter films and 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Being more a pricey keepsake than a comprehensive introduction to the filmic Potterverse, this album mixes stills, portraits of the nearly all-white casts, concept art, storyboard sketches, and set photos featuring assorted actors and locales. There are also brief nods to a very few of the Muggles and No-Majs who worked behind the scenes. Revenson, author of several previous HP spinoffs, contributes short blocks of puffery designed to tantalize rather than inform: “Eddie Redmayne loved wearing Newt’s coat with its endless pockets.” “When the director and producer saw [Evanna Lynch’s] audition tape, they said, ‘Evanna is Luna!’ ” Etcetera. The first section introduces major players in Fantastic Beasts without spoilers or reference to the plotline; the second looks back through the eight previous films with profiles of, in no particular order, Harry and the rest, Gringotts and Diagon Alley, the Frog Choir, Hogsmeade, and three dozen other people, places, or things. A handful of small folded posters, postcards, stickers, and face masks are tucked into pockets or attached by one corner to a few pages.

Handsomely designed but, even as media tie-ins go, thin sauce. (Novelty. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9582-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.

STICKS AND STONES

Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd.

THE MISSING BASEBALL

From the Zach and Zoe Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Lupica kicks off a new series starring a pair of 8-year-old twins who solve sports-themed mysteries.

Even the pleasures of competing in various events during his school’s Spirit Week dim a smidge for Zach Walker when the prized autographed baseball he brings to his third-grade class for show and tell vanishes. Happily, his bookish but equally sports-loving sister, Zoe, is on the case, and by the time of the climactic baseball game at week’s end, she has pieced together clues and deductions that lead to the lost treasure—which had not been stolen but batted through an open window by the teacher’s cat and stashed in a storage shed by the custodian. In the co-published sequel, The Half-Court Hero, the equally innocuous conundrum hangs on the identity of the mysterious “guardian angel” who is fixing up a run-down playground basketball court. Along with plenty of suspenseful sports action, the author highlights in both tales the values of fair play, teamwork, and doing the “right thing.” The Walker family presents white, but in both the narrative and Danger’s appropriately bland (if inappropriately static) illustrations, the supporting cast shows some racial and ethnic diversity.

Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28936-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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