Imaginative, feel-good fun.

ASTER AND THE MIXED-UP MAGIC

From the Aster series , Vol. 2

More magical al fresco adventures abound!

In this full-color follow-up to Aster and the Accidental Magic (2020), Aster and her talking dog, Buzz, return in two new tales. In the first, “Why So Much Wool?” strange accidents repeatedly occur around Aster’s village, and upon investigation, she and Buzz discover a rogue band of muttonheaded sheep (known as the BAAAAAH-ligerent Army) led by a talking ram named Keras, who has proclaimed himself the Great Leader of the Sheep Revolution. Lucky for Aster, the dimwitted sheep are easily outsmarted, but not Keras, whom she must stop before he destroys her home. The second tale, “The End of Everything (and What Was Left),” focuses more on the natural magic from the previous volume. Each season has a royal who helps preserve the balance, passing along a crown to mark the transitions between their reigns. When the crown disappears, Aster ventures to the Labyrinth of Chimeras in an attempt to reforge it and restore the balance before the trickster Rapscallion can escape. This second outing pulls readers into a delightfully wrought world with a strong emphasis on nature and the outdoors and the real and imaginary magic contained therein. Joyous, effervescent illustrations mark this French import. For Aster aficionados, further journeys are hinted at in a subsequent volume in which Aster and her family travel to Japan. Aster and most human characters read as White.

Imaginative, feel-good fun. (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12534-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem.

MUCH ADO ABOUT BASEBALL

A middle schooler struggles to adjust after moving to an idyllic Massachusetts town.

Trish Das is at a crossroads. Not only is the 12-year-old unhappy that her family has moved yet again due to her mother’s cardiology career, she also has to try out for a new baseball team. The fact that one of her new teammates is a former archrival further complicates matters. Math prodigy Ben Messina went head-to-head against fellow math whiz Trish at last spring’s Math Puzzlers Championship. When Trish emerged victorious, Ben was stunned. The two get closer when the team’s mysterious pregame snacks start making everyone play better while also causing magical side effects during games. Equally surprising are the cryptic puzzle booklets Trish and Ben receive in the mail that lead them to even more wins. But as the puzzles get harder to solve, the risk of failing to do so increases. Alternating between Trish’s and Ben’s perspectives, LaRocca’s novel—a companion to 2019’s Midsummer’s Mayhem—is a Much Ado About Nothing homage that explores parental expectations, complicated friendships, and teamwork. The protagonists’ love of problem-solving shines through, and the puzzles themselves are clearly explained. As a third-generation Indian American, Trish also has moving conversations about the circumstances that led her grandparents to emigrate and how those decisions still impact their lives. Ben is implied White. Final illustrations not seen.

A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1101-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Yellow Jacket

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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