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From the Celia Cleary series , Vol. 2

A knotty, high-stakes premise leading to an ingenious solution, with snogging and spellcasting on the way.

Celia, a middle school seer, has to save a classmate who has too much good luck.

Who wouldn’t want bountiful luck? But is it really the blessing it seems? While giving readers that conundrum to ponder, Reintgen sends his eighth grade clairvoyant, already in a whirl of sharply felt grief and fumbling new romance in the wake of events in The Problem With Prophecies (2022), a new flurry of ominous visions centered around a suddenly astounding, magnetic, dazzling basketball phenom named Patrick. He’s been eating lucky cookies, it turns out—so many that the spell has become strong enough to siphon good luck from those around him…and if left unchecked, it will not only leave a growing circle of people luckless for the rest of their lives, but victimize Patrick too, since he’ll never know for sure whether anything he gets or does is due to his own capabilities. How, though, to break a spell that can by its very nature make any effort to counter it go wrong? Fortunately, Celia has the example of her wise, much-missed Grammy to draw on as well as loyal allies, both among her racially diverse, nonmagical schoolmates and the variously gifted members (all women, the men being still conspicuously absent) of the White Cleary clan, to help her get to and through a wildly revved up climax.

A knotty, high-stakes premise leading to an ingenious solution, with snogging and spellcasting on the way. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9781665903608

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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