Broad streaks of sentimentality, particularly in the pictures, but the worthy purpose shines through.

TRUE HEROES

A TREASURY OF MODERN-DAY FAIRY TALES WRITTEN BY BEST-SELLING AUTHORS

In this unusual pro bono gathering, 21 children struck by cancer are worked into elaborately staged photographs and then into matching stories created by as many Utah authors.

For his “Anything Can Be” project, photographer and collection editor Diaz costumes the young patients according to their wishes—as fairies, athletes, knights, a firefighter, a cowpoke, or less generically as a baker, “Batkid,” and a “fashionista”—and portrays them here with fulsome introductory tributes to their spirit and courage. The children display these qualities in the ensuing stories, and if the cover’s claim that most of the authors are “best-selling” is, at best, premature, there’s quality here. Shannon Hale offers a tale of a warrior princess imprisoned in a tower by goblins who shave her head so she can’t escape à la Rapunzel, and Brandon Mull gives readers a costumed young superhero redirecting a vengeful bullying victim onto the moral high road; both stories are strong and effective for all their brevity. The overall tone of earnest boosterism is twice relieved by funny stories (Tyler Whitesides’ “A Fireman Always Helps” and Bobbie Pyron’s “Sada of the High Seas”) and by Lehua Parker’s powerful “Mermaid’s Tale,” in which just walking up a staircase becomes an agonizing feat of endurance.

Broad streaks of sentimentality, particularly in the pictures, but the worthy purpose shines through. (Short stories. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62972-103-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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The young folk and (of course) the animals are engagingly wrought in this tale with a strong ecological message.

WILLODEEN

An orphan loner’s small town faces a hard future after it unwittingly disrupts a natural cycle.

Willodeen is lucky that elderly retired thespians Mae and Birdie took her in after the wildfire that killed her parents and brother, not only because they’re a loving couple, but because they let her roam the woods in search of increasingly rare screechers—creatures so vile-tempered and stinky that the village elders of Perchance have put a bounty on them. The elders have other worries, though: The migratory hummingbears that have long nested in the area, drawing tourists to the lucrative annual Autumn Faire, have likewise nearly vanished. Could there be a connection? If there is, Willodeen is just the person to find it—but who would believe her? Applegate’s characters speak in pronouncements about life and nature that sometimes seem to address readers more than other characters, but the winsome illustrations lighten the thematic load. Screechers appear much like comically fierce warthogs and hummingbears, as small teddies with wings. Applegate traces a burgeoning friendship between her traumatized protagonist and Connor, a young artist who turns found materials into small animals so realistic that one actually comes to life. In the end, the townsfolk do listen and pitch in to make amends. Red-haired, gray-eyed Willodeen is cued as White; Connor has brown skin, and other human characters read as White by default.

The young folk and (of course) the animals are engagingly wrought in this tale with a strong ecological message. (Eco-fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-14740-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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