In this YA fantasy novel set in a modern-day Camelot, a 16-year-old Morgan Le Fay vies to become the next king’s magical protector and guide—if she can beat Merlin.
Morgan can’t resist defying her father and entering the televised tryouts for Arthur’s Round, an elite group of Camelot-based magic users that helps protect Great Britain. She also has a secret to hide: Her mother, Morgause, was executed by Mordred, the current King’s Maven (an odd Yiddish term in this Arthurian world). She desperately wants to become Maven herself, and there’s only one tryout per generation. Morgan goes home without a medal after officials discover her fake magic user’s license, but despite this, she finds herself accepted into Arthur’s Round. During nine months of boarding school classes and training, Morgan rubs elbows with Merlin and other figures, such as Guinevere, Vivian and Lancelot, while dodging suspicious outbreaks of fire and flood. As she undergoes various trials of her abilities, she must make sense of her past and decide whom to trust; much more is going on, it would seem, than the teenage narrator realizes. This novel, written in a first-person, present-tense narrative style, uses many other common tropes of YA fiction: a scrappy but painfully self-conscious young heroine with special gifts who’s in danger; a magical boarding school; mean kids and lying adults. The elements of Arthurian legend, too, are familiar. However, Lovejoy (Clan, 2013) mixes up tradition for her own uses, beginning with her daring choice to make the legendary evil sorceress Morgan Le Fay a young, sympathetic hero. Morgan’s adolescent angst, though well accounted for, can become tiresome, and readers may become a little impatient with her tendency to fly off the handle and jump to conclusions. Nonetheless, Lovejoy describes magic with vivid immediacy and updates Camelot well for the 21st century, bringing in political intrigue that makes sense on both mundane and magical levels.

Camelot meets Hogwarts meets Panem in this intriguing, well-written beginning to a planned YA series.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014


Page Count: -

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2014


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

Close Quickview