A sweet romp for young readers who like humor and magic.

OMG... I DID IT AGAIN?!

From the OMG series , Vol. 2

Now that she has become a witch, April encounters an unexpected challenge: without ever meaning to do it, she conjures up elephants in her dreams.

The elephants—real ones—roam through April’s neighborhood, sit on cars, eat the trees, and spray swimming-pool water everywhere. It’s chaos, and she’s not allowed to leave the house. Together with her friends Grace and Eve, she consults New Orleanian Eve’s Book of Magie, written in French, to find a solution. They realize that April has dreamed about getting the endangered animals to a safe place and that the dream worked! Now they must somehow sneak out of the house to gather items that April can use in a spell to put the elephants back where they belong, but April’s mom and dad are in the way. Can April get the items she needs, possibly including elephant poop, and work the spell properly? Can she understand the French in her book? And most importantly, will the elephants be all right? Aikens-Nuñez keeps her story light and breezy, milking elephant poop and the elephants’ antics for humor. She never implies any danger for anyone, except that April might get in trouble with her parents if they catch her sneaking out! April is white, Grace is Latina, and Eve is African-American.

A sweet romp for young readers who like humor and magic. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77168-034-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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Despite missteps, this satisfying follow-up will leave readers hoping for more magical adventures with lovable Jax and...

THE DRAGON THIEF

From the Dragons in a Bag series , Vol. 2

Jaxon and his friends deal with the fallout from the theft of one of the baby dragons in his charge.

As this sequel to Dragons in a Bag (2018) opens, Kavita, the titular dragon thief, introduces elderly Aunty to stolen baby dragon Mo. Thankfully, Aunty knows someone in Queens who can help return Mo to the realm of magic. Meanwhile, and in alternating first-person chapters, Jax is trying to find Kavi and Mo, as Mo’s siblings have grown ill as a result of the separation, as has Ma, Jax’s magical mentor and grandmother figure. Jax again teams up with his best friend and Kavi’s older brother, Vik. A third is added to their crew with “huge” Kenny, “the biggest kid in [their] class.” (Unfortunately, much is made of Kenny’s size, which feels gratuitous and unkind.) Eventually the trio finds Kavi, Aunty, and Mo, who’ve been abducted by a magical con artist. All’s well that ends well when Sis, the powerful guardian of the magic realm, shows up, but readers may wonder why the narrative decides to grapple with her choice not to intervene in injustice in our world. Her argument that human-caused problems are for humans to solve feels undeveloped, especially in the face of a massive injustice like the trans-Atlantic slave trade (mentioned during the climax and at no other point). Jax is black; Vik, Kavi, and Aunty are Indian American (though Aunty has African ancestry as well); and Kenny is white. The rest of the cast is diverse as well.

Despite missteps, this satisfying follow-up will leave readers hoping for more magical adventures with lovable Jax and company. (Urban fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7049-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A little ruff around the edges.

HEART OF GOLD

From the Cutiecorns series , Vol. 1

A new series features puppies with magical unicorn horns.

The Cutiecorns are thrilled when they learn that they’re about to have their Enchanted Jubilee, which means they’re ready to start learning how to use their magic. Golden retriever puppy Sparkle gets an extra surprise—her parents celebrate her Jubilee by gifting her a locket that’s a precious family heirloom. As with any book for this age group, as soon as an important item is introduced it’s guaranteed to be promptly lost; poor Sparkle is robbed of it by a mysterious stranger. While investigating, the Cutiecorns overhear a scary story about a bad cat wizard, Claw—and the description fits that of Sparkle’s assailant. They venture off into the Furbidden Forest to find the cat and retrieve the locket. The narration is filled with entertaining wordplay for young pun lovers (“pawsome”; “furever”), and the concept of magical puppies is an appealingly childcentric one. The art is a mixed bag—enormous-eyed puppies with shapes that highlight the various breeds (even Claw, despite pointy claws and teeth, is adorable in a chubby way), but the vaunted horns distractingly look an awful lot like party hats. The story really goes to the dogs and falls apart in a confusing climax that relies on deus ex machina magic and an on-the-spot plan that’s perfectly coordinated without any communication among the Cutiecorns. Book 2, Purrfect Pranksters, publishes simultaneously.

A little ruff around the edges. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-54036-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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