Recommended for readers who like their fantasy seasoned with feisty characters and nonstop action. Roll over, Jane Austen!...

RENEGADE MAGIC

From the Kat, Incorrigible series , Vol. 2

Kat Stephenson, incorrigible as ever, returns to sow more magical chaos in a Regency England where families tainted by witchcraft are shunned in polite Society.

With good marriages arranged for Kat's sisters, her family's place in Society seems assured until, at Elissa's wedding, Angeline is publicly outed as a witch. To find Angeline a husband before the scandal breaks, Stepmama engineers a hasty expedition to fashionable Bath. It doesn't go well: Their hosts, the Wingates, treat the Stephensons with sneering condescension, heartbroken Angeline refuses to cooperate with Stepmama's plans, brother Charles disappears into the gaming rooms and Papa buries himself in his studies. Worst of all, Kat is expelled from the Order of the Guardians, the elite whose role is to ensure that magic-working remains in the "right" hands. Exploring the baths, Kat and Lucy Wingate stumble upon a group of young men—including Charles—invoking an ancient Roman goddess. The wild magic unleashed possesses Lucy and nearly overpowers Kat. Yes, the setting’s authentic (mostly)—from the springs of the ancient Roman spa to the stinky waters elegant Regency matrons sip in the Pump Room—but this rollicking tale is neither historical fiction nor literary retread.

Recommended for readers who like their fantasy seasoned with feisty characters and nonstop action. Roll over, Jane Austen! (author's note) (Historical fantasy. 10 & up)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9449-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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