From the Mermaids to the Rescue series , Vol. 1

A compromise tale any kid assigned a group project should understand.

In the same world as the Enchanted Pony Academy series, royal merchildren partner with magical seaponies in the elite Royal Mermaid Rescue Crew.

Princess Nixie’s excited for Selection Day, when she and her fellow Rescue Crew School classmates choose a partner from the Enchanted Seapony Academy. Nixie’s long awaited the day she’ll be a full member of the Rescue Crew, and though she doesn’t know which seapony’s the best match for her, she knows who isn’t: Rip, top of the seapony class but disliked for his rigid adherence to rules and preference for work over fun. When the ceremony comes, though, Nixie draws to pick last, leaving her with…Rip. Seeing his distress and confusion at his last-place selection, Nixie does her best to be positive about their partnership. She seeks common ground through shared adventure, but he’d rather study their rule book. Nixie’s nearly ready to refuse the match when she hears a distress call from her two best friends—stranded where they shouldn’t be—and so she rushes to rescue them. Luckily for her, Rip follows and the two work together—combining her flexible thinking-on-her-feet with the valuable information from his scholarship—gaining understanding and becoming a true team. This intelligent treatment of the emotional dynamic helps to mitigate the tendentiously sparkly worldbuilding and thin characterizations. Nixie appears with lavender hair and light skin on the cover; publishing simultaneously are three other titles in the series, each fronted by a different member of the diverse Royal Mermaid Rescue Crew: Cali Plays Fair, Cascadia Saves the Day, and Lana Swims North.

A compromise tale any kid assigned a group project should understand. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-26697-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018


From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014


An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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