An enchanting fantasy for middle-grade readers who like a touch of magic in their fiction.

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ALL SALES FINAL

A preteen girl learns about what’s valuable in life—and what’s not—after discovering a magical secondhand shop in her small town in the Midwest.

In the second middle-grade novel by the author of Monsterville (2016), 11-year-old Anna lives in Longford, an ordinary town in Illinois, in 1956. Anna thinks that she’s ordinary, too—not sporty like her brother or academic like her sister. But Anna is happy. She has a wild imagination, a great best friend, Carrie, and is known and liked by the adults in town. When she stumbles upon an otherworldly bric-a-brac shop on Main Street, it seems that life can only get better. The shop’s proprietors—lovely old Ruth and her grumpy husband, Vernon—call themselves “keepers.” They look after the magic of the world, and use a magic mirror to discern what their customers most desire. Best of all, Anna has the same gift. She, too, can see what the mirror shows. The shop makes Anna feel special, and she starts working there after school and brings in lots of new customers. But for all the good she does—for all that she makes lives better—some of the changes affect Longford in a less positive way. The magic that solves people’s problems takes something in return. Anna’s obsession with the shop places a strain on her friendship with Carrie. And the shop has a no-returns policy. While Anna’s dreams are coming true, it becomes clear that she needs to careful what she wishes for—a reality that makes this a delightful, safe adventure with insidious dark edges. The 1950s setting adds both a point of difference and a slightly dreamlike quality to the tale. Reida’s minor characters are well drawn and all have roles to play. The dialogue is natural. The prose is simple but polished, drawing readers faster and faster into the unfolding scenario. Given how neatly the plot is structured and how naturally it is traversed, the novel ends rather abruptly—but Anna has a vitality and effervescence that will have staying power for young readers.

An enchanting fantasy for middle-grade readers who like a touch of magic in their fiction.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7348170-1-0

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Warrior Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

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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