This enhancement talent squash match simply runs too long.


From the Slamdown Town series , Vol. 2

It takes two in this middle-grade pro-wrestling sequel.

Business has boomed at Slamdown Town arena ever since Ollie, a scrawny sixth grader, discovered magical gum that transforms him into Big Chew, a muscle-bound wrestler. For now, Big Chew is sidelined, as Ollie prefers cheering alongside gamer girl Tamiko in the crowd. Ollie and Tamiko are doubtful when promoter Linton Krackle’s children, Leon and Luna, make their in-ring debut—and dumbfounded when they effortlessly defeat adult opponents. After battering the duo during an at-home exhibition, Ollie and Tamiko seek and gather evidence of corruption and learn the Krackle Kiddos are ignorant of any foul play. Meanwhile, Tamiko unlocks her own alter ego when a stream of arcade game pixels empowers her to shape-shift Shazam-style into wrestler Game Over. The best friends are, at last, in-ring partners—but Big Chew is a rule-abiding face whereas Game Over competes as a rule-bending heel. As Leon and Luna stack up suspect wins, the Ragtag Team works through their differences and earns hard-fought victories, culminating in a three-way dance for the tag team titles. Can Ollie and Tamiko find a way to conquer the champions while protecting the Krackle Kiddos from psychological and physical harm? Although matter-of-fact intergender matches are welcome, wrestling fans will scratch their heads at nonsensical move names while bookish types will bemoan the formulaic plot. Ollie is White; Tamiko’s name cues her as Japanese American.

This enhancement talent squash match simply runs too long. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4594-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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


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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