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SPARK

Warm, exciting, hopeful, and ethical.

While training to help helm the weather, a girl realizes that her country’s constructed climate has consequences.

Twelve-year-old Mina lives on her family’s farm in sunny Alorria, country of soft breezes and blue skies. There’s never been a tornado, hurricane, or thunderstorm; except on the mountaintops, snow exists only in stories. But the climate isn’t naturally occurring: Five types of storm beasts—sun, rain, wind, snow, lightning—and their loving human guardians keep the weather calm and productive. For example, they direct wind to the sea and moderate it to sailors’ advantage. When Mina’s beast hatches as a lightning beast, everyone’s shocked: Mina’s so quiet she often goes unheard, and lightning guardians should be “brash and loud and brave.” But Mina is brave, though sometimes self-doubting, and she finds creative ways to be heard. Probing the undiscussed connection between Alorria’s intentional weather and the weather across the mountains where “outsiders” live spurs this thoughtful heroine into forbidden actions to address her realization that “The truth ha[s] faces. And graves.” Race is unmentioned; nothing hints away from a white default. The effusive adoration between Mina and her beast, Pixit, evokes The Golden Compass’ Lyra and Pan, though Pixit and Mina can separate; readers will crave their own dragon-shaped storm beast with a face “like a lizard crossed with a puppy” to take them flying into storms and grabbing lightning with their hands.

Warm, exciting, hopeful, and ethical. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-97342-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

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 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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WORST BROOMMATE EVER!

From the Middle School and Other Disasters series , Vol. 1

Serves up light sorcery mixed with middle school friendships.

With her witch mom and human dad, Heidi Heckelbeck was first introduced to readers in a long-running eponymous series about her elementary school life.

Now she’s off to middle school at Broomsfield Academy, her mom’s alma mater. The boarding school, ostensibly an ordinary one, secretly provides special classes for witches and wizards. Those with magical talents must keep them secret, but that’s hard for Heidi. To her great dismay, her “broommate” is her nemesis from home, Melanie Maplethorpe. Is the rude, mean girl of her nightmares also a witch? Despite the rules against using magic outside her special classes, Heidi uses her powers to play a prank on Melanie, whose music is too loud. When the girls are partnered during Broommate Bonding Day, they find out that they are more alike than they think—but that doesn’t mean it’s completely smooth sailing ahead, especially when both of them have crushes on the same boy. There are sweet, detailed, grayscale illustrations scattered throughout, and many of Heidi’s thoughts are emphasized in different type sizes. The story moves quickly, and it may particularly appeal to reluctant readers. Loyal readers of the first series can easily transition to this, and others looking for an accessible read with a touch of magic will also enjoy it. Heidi and Melanie appear White; some secondary characters bring racial diversity.

Serves up light sorcery mixed with middle school friendships. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 30, 2023

ISBN: 9781665925280

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon Spotlight

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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