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MALAMANDER

From the Legends of Eerie-on-Sea series , Vol. 1

This creepy, quirky debut trilogy opener—think H.P. Lovecraft crossed with John Bellairs—is dank, misty fun.

Not your average coastal getaway, Eerie-on-Sea is brimming with secrets, including its own monster.

In the dismal offseason, young Herbie Lemon, the Grand Nautilus Hotel’s cautious (he’s heard the legends) Lost-and-Founder, is on the job, keeping warm, when Violet Parma, abandoned at the hotel as an infant 12 years ago, arrives, searching for her lost parents and fleeing pursuit. Fearless and determined, she recruits Herbie into her schemes. He knows she isn’t telling him her whole story—but then, he isn’t telling her (or readers) his, either. When a clue leads them to the Eerie Book Dispensary, a mechanical mermonkey steers Violet to a book about the malamander, an aquatic monster that lays a magical egg at Midwinter, then takes it back. Other egg seekers include a local author; the imperious hotel owner, whose grandfather once possessed it; the ghostly Boat Hook Man; and Violet’s parents. (Her father, the only character identified by race, is black; whether the white default that seems to apply to the rest of the book applies also to Violet is unclear.) While present-tense narration frequently has a bland effect on fantasy, flattening time and the contours of history, here lively characters, droll humor, and steampunk-tinged worldbuilding counter the effect. The limited art available for review amplifies the spookiness. The deeply atmospheric setting is a standout.

This creepy, quirky debut trilogy opener—think H.P. Lovecraft crossed with John Bellairs—is dank, misty fun. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0722-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

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

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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MUCH ADO ABOUT BASEBALL

A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem.

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 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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