THE ART OF THE SWAP

The disappointing triumph of superficial style over substance.

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. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

THE WORLD-FAMOUS NINE

A whodunit that doesn’t live up to its intriguing premise.

Coded clues put two young sleuths on the trail of a magic mandala hidden somewhere in a huge, bustling department store.

Hardly has meek young Zander Olinga arrived for a visit with Zina Winebee, his grandmother and owner-manager of the Number Nine Plaza, than he learns of a threat to the continued existence of the renowned emporium. The danger is linked to Darkbloom, a rumored evil spirit set on reversing the good-fortune charm left by Nepali monks at the store’s founding. The stone tablet bearing the magical mandala vanished 90 years ago, and finding its hiding place becomes a race pitting Zander and intrepid new ally Natasha Novikov against unknown saboteurs whose minds have been taken over by Darkbloom. The keys to the tablet’s location are a series of ingenious word and number clues left by Zander’s great-granduncle Vladimir, and Guterson provides enough hints along the way for savvy readers to decode them. What he doesn’t do is give either his leads or the many-faceted store (which, over the course of the story, is explored from the Ferris wheel on its roof to the bakery in the cellar) any more depth or distinctive traits than he gives Nepali religious practice. Darkbloom remains a shadowy bugaboo, its actual nature and motivations unexplained and its fate left anticlimactically unresolved. Zander’s father is from Cameroon, and his mother reads white; names cue some diversity in the supporting cast. Final art not seen. (This review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

A whodunit that doesn’t live up to its intriguing premise. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2024

ISBN: 9780316484442

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

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 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Close Quickview