This captivating tale of magic spells and a young hero launches a promising saga.


A boy discovers his family’s surprising history at a school for magic in this middle-grade supernatural novel.

Wil Wychwood loses his grandmother, who had raised him since his parents’ deaths, and their Toronto home to a sudden fire. The 10-year-old boy now only has his cherished snake, Esme, who joins him on his train ride to Winnipeg. That’s where he’ll be living with his two aunts and cousin Sophie—relatives he didn’t even know he had. It turns out he’s part of a family of mages, though Wil is initially skeptical. The city of MiddleGate is special, and Wil and Sophie attend an academy where they learn magic. It’s a bizarre school of bullies, stern mage teachers, and the library’s notoriously pesky ghost. But there may be a genuine menace hiding among the people of MiddleGate. Wil suspects a person in authority is up to no good, while his aunt Violet cryptically warns him about an ancient, enigmatic secret society. Indeed, someone willing to commit kidnapping and possibly worse crimes wants something from Wil. In this series opener, Bridgman grounds her narrative with a likable young hero trying to fit in at a new school. Wil loves books and absolutely adores Esme, a nonvenomous reptile who doesn’t bite. The author gradually and skillfully adds supernatural elements, such as students and mages manipulating their shadows. There are also abundant mysteries involving the academy and the protagonist’s past; certain characters are actually more important than they first appear, including an old friend of Wil’s. The author, meanwhile, depicts the city’s landscapes with assiduity and panache: “Gravestones leaned perilously in derelict cemeteries, and exploded tire shreds pitched like so many dead blackbirds along the highway.” Although most questions raised have no answers in sight, a couple of reveals are doozies.

This captivating tale of magic spells and a young hero launches a promising saga.

Pub Date: April 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5255-8590-6

Page Count: 234

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2022

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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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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.


Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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