From the Strangeworlds Travel Agency series , Vol. 1

Have (magic) suitcase, will travel.

Twelve-year-old English girl Flick, the imaginative daughter of a post office employee and a garbage collector, isn’t thrilled about moving from their urban tower block to the outskirts of a posh village—until the day she wanders into a magical travel agency. There, she meets lonely 18-year-old shopkeeper Jonathan, who inducts Flick into The Strangeworlds Society, whose members use suitcases to explore different worlds. Jonathan has been abandoned following his father’s mysterious, multiverse-related disappearance, and the two set out to find him. This is classic children’s literature following in a very specific tradition, with portals and adventures that pique the imagination more than the adrenaline. The writing is at times reminiscent of Diana Wynne Jones, who similarly envisioned multiverses and populated her very British fantasies with real children frustrated by real concerns: Flick, conscious of her family’s socio-economic status, worries about her new school and carries heavy responsibilities for housework and minding her baby brother, as her parents work long hours and opposite shifts. This series opener takes a picaresque route—including a world of children who never grow up, a giant tree full of magic crystals, and more—and by the end, something larger is clearly in motion. Readers will be eager to visit more worlds with irrepressible Flick and prickly Jonathan. Characters read as White by default.

Utterly delightful. (Fantasy. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8351-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.


The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Readers will be irresistibly drawn into Harry's world by GrandPre's comic illustrations and Rowling's expert combination of...


From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998) brings back the doughty young wizard-in-training to face suspicious adults, hostile classmates, fretful ghosts, rambunctious spells, giant spiders, and even an avatar of Lord Voldemort, the evil sorcerer who killed his parents, while saving the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from a deadly, mysterious menace.

Ignoring a most peculiar warning, Harry kicks off his second year at Hogwarts after a dreadful summer with his hateful guardians, the Dursleys, and is instantly cast into a whirlwind of magical pranks and misadventures, culminating in a visit to the hidden cavern where his friend Ron's little sister Ginny lies, barely alive, in a trap set by his worst enemy. Surrounded by a grand mix of wise and inept faculty, sneering or loyal peers—plus an array of supernatural creatures including Nearly Headless Nick and a huge, serpentine basilisk—Harry steadily rises to every challenge, and though he plays but one match of the gloriously chaotic field game Quidditch, he does get in plenty of magic and a bit of swordplay on his way to becoming a hero again.

Readers will be irresistibly drawn into Harry's world by GrandPre's comic illustrations and Rowling's expert combination of broad boarding school farce and high fantasy. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 2, 1999

ISBN: 0-439-06486-4

Page Count: 341

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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