A fast-paced adventure that promotes harmful messages around disability.

DRAGONS VS. ROBOTS

From the Dragon Ops series , Vol. 2

An avid gamer and his sister enter an apocalyptic virtual reality world to rescue their imprisoned friend.

After getting trapped and nearly killed in Dragon Ops, a fantasy augmented-reality theme park, Ian Rivera has sworn off the internet. He’s haunted by visions of Atreus, a vicious AI dragon who escaped from the game. When Ian and his sister receive a plea for help from their friend Ikumi, a digitized copy of the Dragon Ops creator’s deceased daughter, Ian must face his worst fears to set her free from Mech Ops, a virtual reality game about robots and zombies. A troubling theme touting video games as a glorious “equalizer” runs throughout, clearly positioning disability as negative and its elimination in the virtual environment as a positive. Starr, a Black woman whose role seems to be to teach Ian about coping with trauma, uses a wheelchair but plays the most physically mobile character (without a wheelchair) in the game, stating, “We may not be able to run in real life. But we can fly in his games.” When Ian learns that the Mech Ops chimpanzee beta tester uses sign language in real life but is able—and prefers—to speak inside the game, he thinks, “This was so awesome. It was really hard to see it as a castle of evil.” The book follows a White default; the Riveras’ surname may be intended to cue them as Latinx.

A fast-paced adventure that promotes harmful messages around disability. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5518-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A young tennis champion becomes the target of revenge.

In this sequel to Legacy and the Queen (2019), Legacy Petrin and her friends Javi and Pippa have returned to Legacy’s home province and the orphanage run by her father. With her friends’ help, she is in training to defend her championship when they discover that another player, operating under the protection of High Consul Silla, is presenting herself as Legacy. She is so convincing that the real Legacy is accused of being an imitation. False Legacy has become a hero to the masses, further strengthening Silla’s hold, and it becomes imperative to uncover and defeat her. If Legacy is to win again, she must play her imposter while disguised as someone else. Winning at tennis is not just about money and fame, but resisting Silla’s plans to send more young people into brutal mines with little hope of better lives. Legacy will have to overcome her fears and find the magic that allowed her to claim victory in the past. This story, with its elements of sports, fantasy, and social consciousness that highlight tensions between the powerful and those they prey upon, successfully continues the series conceived by late basketball superstar Bryant. As before, the tennis matches are depicted with pace and spirit. Legacy and Javi have brown skin; most other characters default to White.

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949520-19-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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