A sensational, exhilarating adventure that will make new readers want to read the series’ first.

KEYS TO ATLANTIS

THE ODYSSEY OF JON SINCLAIR, VOLUME 2

Time traveler Jon Sinclair returns to the 17th century to find the lost city of Atlantis in the second installment of Copus’ (BlackHeart’s Legacy, 2012) middle-grade adventure series.

It’s been three years since 15-year-old Jon fought with pirates in 1692, and now he’s back in the present. He reads a letter from his friend, Capt. BlackHeart, which hints that the captain is able to take him to Atlantis. Jon, his “Pappy” Alistair, his godfather, Nikos, and an English BlackHeart descendant named Colin all hop aboard the space-time-bending ship Carousel and journey to 1699 Crete. There, they reconnect with the captain, who tells them that he may have the key to the legendary lost city. But that key, a black opal stone, is part of a set—and the group will need to find at least one more opal before they can make the Atlantean journey. BlackHeart, however, then encounters an old pal whom he thought was dead. The man also knows far too much about his expedition, which can only mean that there’s a traitor among the captain’s group. This is a sequel that does everything right. For starters, it features several returning characters, such as former navigator Spider and quartermaster Mr. Token, and recognizable predicaments, such as a harrowing battle at sea. But Copus truly expands the Sinclairs’ world by opening up subplots that the preceding novel merely teased. For example, there’s much more back story this time concerning Jon’s long-deceased parents, particularly his father, Weston, who worked for the government’s Office of External Affairs. Similarly, further details about the Carousel suggest its possible origin: the Kimmerii, men from the future who need the ship to return to their own time, a few centuries hence. Unfortunately, Grammy, aka Kathryn, a featured player in the last book, has a much smaller role, but new character Haley, Colin’s little sis, almost fills that void. She’s a brilliant hacker who’s close to Jon’s age, and her addition adds romantic possibilities to the story. Copus has great fun with timeline-divided culture; BlackHeart’s hilarious fascination with a Post-it Note, for example, is a standout moment. There are a few other tasty morsels as well, including a contemporary car chase; a vicious, human-sized falcon; and an ending that leaves at least two characters’ fates in question.

A sensational, exhilarating adventure that will make new readers want to read the series’ first.

Pub Date: March 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1508419204

Page Count: 386

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2015

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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