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A wonderful story for all the scared people doing the right thing because nobody else will.

Canary “Ary” Mossheart’s no hero, but if adults won’t save Mama from the mold that’s killing her, she’ll have to try anyway.

Ary, a 12-year-old mold-scraper, lives in Terra—a terrarium world designed by the gardener to be a haven for fairies. She should get her wings any day now; they’ll be ground into magic dust to beat back the mold that is rotting Terra’s food, poisoning the water, and sickening and starving everyone except the privileged. Everyone expects Ary to be a hero like her legendary Gran, who journeyed to the Underground to bring back the cure for a plague, but all she wants is to help Mama. Ary braves the Gloom beyond the fence, where she makes unexpected friends and learns that Terra is built on multiple lies. If, before week’s end, a Mossheart doesn’t give their life to release the fairies from Terra, their world will die. Mix’s straightforward, magic-laced writing doesn’t shy away from hard but age-appropriately addressed truths of poverty, privilege, and natural disasters. Through tears and laughter, readers will easily follow this exciting, honest, and hopeful tale that speaks gently and clearly to kids’ fears and needs. It urges them to value their own experiences, reassures them that it’s OK to be angry when they’re left to pay for the mistakes of adults, and reminds them that kindness must guide us, even when we’re afraid.

A wonderful story for all the scared people doing the right thing because nobody else will. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780063254053

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023

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From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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