A lush and intelligent opener for a topical eco-fantasy series.

THE FIRES BENEATH THE SEA

From the Dissenters series , Vol. 1

Nature and science in a vivid Cape Cod setting create layers of meaning as 13-year-old Cara and her brothers confront the puzzle of their mother’s disappearance.

Mom vanished two months ago, and summer’s ending. While swimming in the ocean, Cara spots a sea otter—but sea otters don’t belong on Atlantic beaches. Cara reaches out her fingertips, and the otter streams words into Cara’s mind: “TAKE CARE OF THEM FOR ME.” The next morning, on a bayside beach (across the Cape from the ocean beach), she sees the otter again—or another one—and Cara’s dog picks up a piece of driftwood inscribed “CARA. CONSULT THE LEATHERBACK.” Ten-year-old brother Jax, a genius with odd ESP gifts, communes with the aquarium’s leatherback turtle; 16-year-old brother Max, a skeptic, needs coaxing but joins the mission too. A man stalks them, water flowing continuously out of his face; he arrives, horribly, through faucets and lawn sprinklers. In a stunning and luminescent scene, Cara and Jax confront the Pouring Man on the ocean floor. Their quest has three levels: a personal level about their missing mother, an ecological level about ocean acidification and an epic level about good and evil that the kids don’t understand yet. Millet’s prose is lyrically evocative (“the rhythmic scoop and splash of their paddles”).

A lush and intelligent opener for a topical eco-fantasy series. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-931520-71-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Big Mouth House

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

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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AKATA WITCH

Who can't love a story about a Nigerian-American 12-year-old with albinism who discovers latent magical abilities and saves the world? Sunny lives in Nigeria after spending the first nine years of her life in New York. She can't play soccer with the boys because, as she says, "being albino made the sun my enemy," and she has only enemies at school. When a boy in her class, Orlu, rescues her from a beating, Sunny is drawn in to a magical world she's never known existed. Sunny, it seems, is a Leopard person, one of the magical folk who live in a world mostly populated by ignorant Lambs. Now she spends the day in mundane Lamb school and sneaks out at night to learn magic with her cadre of Leopard friends: a handsome American bad boy, an arrogant girl who is Orlu’s childhood friend and Orlu himself. Though Sunny's initiative is thin—she is pushed into most of her choices by her friends and by Leopard adults—the worldbuilding for Leopard society is stellar, packed with details that will enthrall readers bored with the same old magical worlds. Meanwhile, those looking for a touch of the familiar will find it in Sunny's biggest victories, which are entirely non-magical (the detailed dynamism of Sunny's soccer match is more thrilling than her magical world saving). Ebulliently original. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01196-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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