A charming adventure stocked with a house-sized spider, an Afro comb gifted by a goddess, and a giant flying rodent—one who...

A soccer-loving, American-born Nigerian 13-year-old matures into her mystical powers.

A few years after her Igbo parents brought their children to live in Nigeria (Akata Witch, 2011), Sunny Nwazue had learned she belonged to the mystical Leopard People. Now she alternates among regular school; Leopard training with her teacher, Sugar Cream; training with her magical alter ego spirit face; and hiding her secret life from her parents and brothers. Sunny is albino, though her magic has eliminated most disabling effects aside from a need to wear glasses. A superstitious bigot accuses Sunny (who does draw supernatural power from her albinism) of being a witch; as albino Nigerians suffer genuine harm from such accusations, the truth in this attack strikes a discordant note. The magic appears influenced by Igbo religious practices in Sunny’s diverse Nigeria, populated by Muslims and Christians, where Sunny and her African-American and Nigerian friends learn magic and eat in Uzoma’s Chinese Restaurant. Sunny's been having strange nightmares, possibly tied to new environmental disasters. An oracle explains that these dreams are prophetic and sends her and her friends to a magical city populated with spirits who chat on cellphones. Much like their magical world, it’s “simultaneously ancient and modern West African.” It’s a hefty tome for a middle school read, but Sunny’s an inviting character who keeps the pace moving.

A charming adventure stocked with a house-sized spider, an Afro comb gifted by a goddess, and a giant flying rodent—one who loves hip-hop. (Fantasy. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-670-78561-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017


From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011


Well-educated American boys from privileged families have abundant options for college and career. For Chiko, their Burmese counterpart, there are no good choices. There is never enough to eat, and his family lives in constant fear of the military regime that has imprisoned Chiko’s physician father. Soon Chiko is commandeered by the army, trained to hunt down members of the Karenni ethnic minority. Tai, another “recruit,” uses his streetwise survival skills to help them both survive. Meanwhile, Tu Reh, a Karenni youth whose village was torched by the Burmese Army, has been chosen for his first military mission in his people’s resistance movement. How the boys meet and what comes of it is the crux of this multi-voiced novel. While Perkins doesn’t sugarcoat her subject—coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society—this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest. It answers the question, “What is it like to be a child soldier?” clearly, but with hope. (author’s note, historical note) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58089-328-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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