Maya never expected to recover from the death of her best friend Stephanie, but accidentally bonding with Rimi completely...

MEETING

From the Magic Next Door series , Vol. 2

An everyday seventh grader has a secret alien best friend and a house full of magic-wielding mentors next-door.

Maya never expected to recover from the death of her best friend Stephanie, but accidentally bonding with Rimi completely changed her life (Thresholds, 2010). Rimi is sissimi, a young alien who communicates telepathically with Maya and hides as Maya's shadow—if a shadow could eat, move objects and draw. Not only is Rimi a wonderful new best friend, she's introduced Maya to her neighbors in Janus House, where Maya is now learning to be a magical practitioner so that she can one day to travel to alien worlds. Maya’s adventures are sheer, joyful middle-school–meets-magic. She's concerned about making friends at school, her art and piano lessons, meeting aliens after classes, the embarrassment when Rimi telekinetically makes her burp, having the best Halloween costume and a mean classmate who also has a bonded sissimi. Though Maya is often confused by the plethora of alien concepts she's expected to understand (Rimi constantly uses undefined words), she finds her new responsibilities and friendships thrilling. The discombobulated mystery of who the bad guys are (presumably to be discovered later in the series) is almost incidental to the daily adventures of an ordinary girl with a shadow from another planet.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01283-1

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A kid adventurer with a disability makes this steampunk offering stand out.

BRIGHTSTORM

From the Brightstorm series , Vol. 1

Orphaned twins, an adventurer dad lost to an ice monster, and an airship race around the world.

In Lontown, 12-year-old twins Arthur and Maudie learn that their explorer father has gone missing on his quest to reach South Polaris, the crew of his sky-ship apparently eaten by monsters. As he’s accused of sabotage, their father’s property is forfeit. The disgraced twins are sent off to live in a garret in a scene straight out of an Edwardian novel à la A Little Princess. Maudie has the consolation of her engineering skills, but all Arthur wants is to be an adventurer like his father. A chance to join Harriet Culpepper’s journey to South Polaris might offer excitement and let him clear his father’s name—if only he can avoid getting eaten by intelligent ice monsters. Though some steampunk set dressing is appropriately over-the-top (such as a flying house, thinly depicted but charming), adaptive tools for Arthur’s disability are wonderfully realistic. His iron arm is a standard, sometimes painful passive prosthesis. The crew adapts the airship galley for Arthur’s needs, even creating a spiked chopping board. Off the ship, Arthur and Maudie meet people and animals in vignettes that are appealingly rendered but slight. Harriet teaches the white twins respect for the cultures they encounter on these travels, though they are never more than observers of non-Lontowners’ different ways.

A kid adventurer with a disability makes this steampunk offering stand out. (Steampunk. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-00564-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Funny, scary in the right moments, and offering plenty of historical facts.

HOUDINI AND ME

Catfished…by a ghost!

Harry Mancini, an 11-year-old White boy, was born and lives in Harry Houdini’s house in New York City. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s obsessed with Houdini and his escapology. Harry and his best friend, Zeke, are goofing around in some particularly stupid ways (“Because we’re idiots,” Zeke explains later) when Harry hits his head. In the aftermath of a weeklong coma, Harry finds a mysterious gift: an ancient flip phone that has no normal phone service but receives all-caps text messages from someone who identifies himself as “HOUDINI.” Harry is wary of this unseen stranger, like any intelligently skeptical 21st-century kid, but he’s eventually convinced: His phone friend is the real deal. So when Houdini asks Harry to try one of his greatest tricks, Harry agrees. Harry—so full of facts about Houdini that he litters his storytelling with infodumps, making him an enthusiastic tour guide to Houdini’s life—is easily tricked by his supportive-seeming hero. Harry, Zeke, and Houdini are all just the right amount of snarky, and while Harry’s terrifying adventure has an occasionally inconsistent voice, the humor and tension make this an appealing page-turner. Archival photographs of Harry Houdini make the ghostly visitation feel closer. Zeke is Black, and Harry Houdini, as he was in life, is a White Jewish immigrant.

Funny, scary in the right moments, and offering plenty of historical facts. (historical note, bibliography) (Supernatural adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4515-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more