An original Aussie time-travel tale.

CROW COUNTRY

After moving to the country, an Australian teen travels back in time to right old wrongs involving her family and a threatened aboriginal site.

When her single mum, Ellie, sells their house in Melbourne and uproots them to the isolated lakeside town of Boort, 13-year-old Sadie’s angry and lonely. Ellie’s at home in Boort where she spent childhood summers and soon reconnects with David, a former boyfriend who’s aboriginal. As Ellie and David start going around together, there’s obvious racial bias among the locals. Meanwhile, Sadie discovers a circle of standing stones covered with ancient aboriginal carvings in a dried-up lake bed, triggering the appearance of a talking crow who warns Sadie, “This is Crow’s place.” Haunted by Crow’s message, Sadie repeatedly slips back in time to 1933 to uncover the truth about the murder of an aboriginal man who tried to stop the flooding of his sacred land. When the current white owner of the land wants to misuse it as his ancestor did, Sadie must prevent history from repeating itself. This neatly structured story relies on aboriginal folklore, enduring racial biases, betrayed friendships and a perceptive heroine who knows the difference between right and wrong.

An original Aussie time-travel tale. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-74237-395-9

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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Well paced and witty.

CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD

Thirteen-year-old Iraqi American Sikander Aziz must stop the ancient Mesopotamian plague god Nergal from raining destruction and pestilence on New York City.

After the death of his older brother, Mo, who died during a trip to Iraq, Sik has been working in his refugee parents’ New York deli nonstop, trying to stymie his grief. But when Nergal and his minions trash the deli while seeking a stolen treasure, they start a plague that infects Sik’s parents and threatens all of New York. Teaming up with the goddess Ishtar; her sword-wielding adoptive daughter, Belet; and Mo’s frequently typecast aspiring actor best friend, Daoud, they must find a way to stop Nergal and cure New York’s residents in an epic adventure worthy of Gilgamesh. Chadda brings attention to the less well-recognized mythology of ancient Mesopotamia with engaging humor and wit. Dialogue between characters, most of whom are Iraqi and Iraqi American, allows exploration of heavier topics of Islamophobia, anti-Arabism, and terrorist and Orientalist tropes to be inserted with ease. The Aziz family and Daoud are Muslims; Chadda navigates the difficult line of reconciling the depiction of characters interacting with multiple gods with the fundamental Muslim belief in one God both in the text and the backmatter. Daoud and Mo are alluded to being gay and having been in love.

Well paced and witty. (author's note, glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-05150-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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