The disappointing triumph of superficial style over substance.

THE ART OF THE SWAP

A century apart, two preteens magically swap places and tackle an unsolved mystery: the theft of a painting by impressionist Mary Cassatt from a Newport, Rhode Island, mansion.

For Maggie, niece of the coal tycoon who built The Elms, it’s 1905. Twenty-first-century Hannah lives at The Elms, now a museum, with her caretaker father. She’s fascinated by the Gilded Age and the mystery of how Maggie’s portrait was stolen before it could be unveiled. When each suffers a fall, they discover they’ve switched bodies and can talk to each other through the mirror. Hannah, who knows the house and its history, seizes this chance to investigate the art heist. Learning of her portrait’s theft—due to occur that night—Maggie wants to help. While Hannah recruits Jonah, the kitchen boy who’ll be accused of the theft, Maggie studies Hannah’s iPhone and tries to learn soccer on the fly. Narrating alternate chapters, the girls discover that finding the culprit fails to return each to her time. First-person, present-tense narration works against the historical setting, and Hannah’s loud voice, crammed with pop-culture references to the Kardashians, hashtags, and port-a-potties, overwhelms any Gilded Age ambiance. Played for laughs, the 1905 denizens’ perplexity at her jargon soon palls. Though less tiresome, Maggie’s no more believable. Physical descriptions of characters are few, and race is never mentioned, but characters appear white, like The Elms’ historical occupants, Maggie’s family. Girl power and women’s progress toward equality are celebrated mainly in internal narration.

The disappointing triumph of superficial style over substance. (authors’ notes, bibliography) (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7871-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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