The story positively vibrates with fun.

A DRAGON'S GUIDE TO MAKING YOUR HUMAN SMARTER

From the Dragon's Guide series , Vol. 2

Following A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans (2015), the saga of Miss Drake, a dragon living in San Francisco, continues as she tries to train her pet human in the ways of magic.

Told from the alternating perspectives of Miss Drake and her little human pet, Winnie, the story derives humor from their juxtaposition. Winnie, of course, sees Miss Drake as her pet, but the two never realize their different viewpoints. Even though she is a “natural” rather than a “magical,” Winnie gets to go to the wonderfully multiethnic, multispecies Spriggs Academy, where she will get an education like no other, with amazing teachers such as the real Sir Isaac Newton. However, as in all schools, Winnie will have to cope with a clique of hostile girls, here led by the niece of a famous sorceress. Lurking in the distant background is a threat from Winnie’s grandfather, a rich and selfish man who wants to take Winnie from her mom. If Winnie does not learn how to defeat him, her memory of Miss Drake will be wiped clean, and Miss Drake herself will have to leave her comfy San Francisco home. Can Winnie get some help from the wonderful, magical nesting Small Doll, who loves chocolate? Yep and Ryder keep the magic coming with their whimsical fantasy, enhanced by Grandpré’s sweet drawings.

The story positively vibrates with fun. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-39232-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem.

MUCH ADO ABOUT BASEBALL

A middle schooler struggles to adjust after moving to an idyllic Massachusetts town.

Trish Das is at a crossroads. Not only is the 12-year-old unhappy that her family has moved yet again due to her mother’s cardiology career, she also has to try out for a new baseball team. The fact that one of her new teammates is a former archrival further complicates matters. Math prodigy Ben Messina went head-to-head against fellow math whiz Trish at last spring’s Math Puzzlers Championship. When Trish emerged victorious, Ben was stunned. The two get closer when the team’s mysterious pregame snacks start making everyone play better while also causing magical side effects during games. Equally surprising are the cryptic puzzle booklets Trish and Ben receive in the mail that lead them to even more wins. But as the puzzles get harder to solve, the risk of failing to do so increases. Alternating between Trish’s and Ben’s perspectives, LaRocca’s novel—a companion to 2019’s Midsummer’s Mayhem—is a Much Ado About Nothing homage that explores parental expectations, complicated friendships, and teamwork. The protagonists’ love of problem-solving shines through, and the puzzles themselves are clearly explained. As a third-generation Indian American, Trish also has moving conversations about the circumstances that led her grandparents to emigrate and how those decisions still impact their lives. Ben is implied White. Final illustrations not seen.

A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1101-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Yellow Jacket

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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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