Yep's Dragon of the Lost Sea (1982) ended with comrades Shimmer (a dragon princess) and Thorn (a boy) capturing the witch Civet, who had displaced Shimmer's clan by draining their Inland Sea. Without dropping a stitch, Dragon Steel picks up Thorn and Shimmer on their way to the dragons' undersea kingdom, where Shimmer will ask her uncle, the High King, for the magic cauldron that might help restore the Inland Sea. But instead of offering help or the expected congratulations, the High King demands Shimmer's magic pearl, then throws them in prison when she refuses him. Before they finally get the cauldron, Shimmer and Thorn must outwit the Grand Mage, evade the Dragon guard, take the form of small fish, battle creatures called Krakens, contact Shimmer's homeless people (now in thrall to the High King), obtain a flower from the dragon Lady Francolin, and take it back to Monkey (who is imprisoned in the palace), so that Monkey can summon the powerful Lord of the Flowers. There are yet more transformations, battles, and trials; and though the cauldron is obtained at last, the comrades' arrival at the Inland Lake must await another volume. Besides the string of mini-adventures, there are a couple of running questions—whether their new companion Indigo will abandon her "look out for number one" philosophy; whether Shimmer will prove up to leading her people—but their conclusions are foregone, and Yep shows no interest in exploring or developing the issues. Though Yep is as imaginative as the next fantasist in dreaming up shapes, tricks, and surprises, it sometimes seems, as Shimmer comments upon the sudden appearance of a threatening Flame Bird, that "Someone [is] working magic for no apparent reason."

Pub Date: April 10, 1985

ISBN: 0064404862

Page Count: 275

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1985

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.


In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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