NICO BRAVO AND THE CELLAR DWELLERS

From the Nico Bravo series , Vol. 2

Living among gods and monsters, a young boy must save his friends and their magical island.

Jumping right in where Nico Bravo and the Hounds of Hades (2019) left off, young Nico Bravo, resident of the enchanted isle of Celestina and employee at Vulcan’s Celestial Supply Shop, is not looking forward to the annual visit of Sam, better known as Abonsam, the West African god of misfortune and pestilence—who, despite his bailiwick, comes across as a pretty likable character. When one of Sam’s monsters is released, however, all at the shop begin to turn to stone. As Nico’s friends are petrifying, Orcus, a shape-shifting monster henchman of Ahriman, god of evil, has broken into the shop to steal the last piece of Aether, the building block of all things. Nico embarks upon an epic quest to save his friends and their home—along the way encountering Atlantean flying saucers, unicorns stuck in a time loop, and steamroller scorpions—but not before he learns his own origin story. Cavallaro’s sophomore graphic novel is both fast-paced and engaging, filling its full-color panels with enough intrigue and explosions to keep pages flying. Fans of Rick Riordan’s works should feel at home here with its mix of multicultural religions. Ahriman comes from Zoroastrian tradition, Orcus is a Roman deity, and secondary character Eowulf derives from Nordic myth; figures from the Abrahamic faiths seem to be absent, however. Nico and most of the main human characters are white; only a few unnamed background humans show any different skin tones.

Smart, fast-paced fun. (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22037-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem.

MUCH ADO ABOUT BASEBALL

A middle schooler struggles to adjust after moving to an idyllic Massachusetts town.

Trish Das is at a crossroads. Not only is the 12-year-old unhappy that her family has moved yet again due to her mother’s cardiology career, she also has to try out for a new baseball team. The fact that one of her new teammates is a former archrival further complicates matters. Math prodigy Ben Messina went head-to-head against fellow math whiz Trish at last spring’s Math Puzzlers Championship. When Trish emerged victorious, Ben was stunned. The two get closer when the team’s mysterious pregame snacks start making everyone play better while also causing magical side effects during games. Equally surprising are the cryptic puzzle booklets Trish and Ben receive in the mail that lead them to even more wins. But as the puzzles get harder to solve, the risk of failing to do so increases. Alternating between Trish’s and Ben’s perspectives, LaRocca’s novel—a companion to 2019’s Midsummer’s Mayhem—is a Much Ado About Nothing homage that explores parental expectations, complicated friendships, and teamwork. The protagonists’ love of problem-solving shines through, and the puzzles themselves are clearly explained. As a third-generation Indian American, Trish also has moving conversations about the circumstances that led her grandparents to emigrate and how those decisions still impact their lives. Ben is implied White. Final illustrations not seen.

A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1101-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Yellow Jacket

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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