An engaging work that should be a solid hit with young readers.


Skinner offers a steampunk middle-grade adventure novel about a bunch of scrappy urchins who battle bad guys and rescue their own.

The “streeters” live in a part of the city of Landings that seems straight out of the work of Charles Dickens: full of filth and choking smoke, and cold and wet all the time. These kids are orphans, for the most part, who do what they must to survive while dodging nasty cops—especially Constable Cutter. The book’s main hero is Gage, and his gang is the Lostuns. Gangs are the only society they have, and the only source of tenuous security. Gage, while looking for some Lostuns who have gone missing, comes across Wynd, who’s been forced out of her own gang, the Dartlings, because she insists on searching for her two missing young brothers. During the search, Gage encounters a tiny “clockwork” homunculus named Clax who proves invaluable to the mission, time after time. The plot takes off when it becomes clear that the missing boys have been abducted and sold to pirates and smugglers, who spirited them off to an island where they’re forced to extract a precious ore. With pluck and luck and amazing inventions (including flying machines), the heroes confront seemingly hopeless situations and hairbreadth escapes. Skinner is experienced at these sorts of stories, and it shows. The work of J.M Barrie also deserves credit as her inspiration, since foppish Captain Spindle is a barely disguised Captain Hook, his first mate is clearly Mr. Smee, and Clax is a Tinker Bell analogue; there’s even a crocodile (albeit a steampunk creation). Skinner is clearly having fun with this, but the moral—the importance of family, whether biological or only spiritual—is apt and a good lesson for young folks; such togetherness is to be encouraged.

An engaging work that should be a solid hit with young readers.

Pub Date: April 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-938190-77-3

Page Count: 255

Publisher: Brick Cave Media

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2022

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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.


Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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


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 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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