From the Nocturnals series , Vol. 1

A delightful adventure about the power of uncommon traits and the joys of newfound friendship.

Three uncommon strangers become friends and heroes in Hecht's debut middle-grade fantasy.

Night after night, animals have been disappearing. A wombat, a honey badger, several kiwis, and even a tarantula have found themselves victims of this nocturnal predator. Or is it predators? Luckily Tobin the gentle pangolin, Bismark the multilingual sugar glider, and Dawn the brave fox are determined to get to the bottom of it. Calling themselves the Brigade, they steadily pick up clues as well as other animal comrades. But when Bismark disappears, only their wits and unique talents will save him and the other missing wildlife. Hecht's characters diverge from the standard talking-animal fare. Readers interested in other, less-well-known members of the animal kingdom will appreciate the variety of critters in the book. The different animals’ particular characteristics enhance their personalities without pigeonholing their behavior, giving the author an opportunity to celebrate their strengths—happily without saturating the plot with a too obvious feel-good message. Bismark's distractingly italicized international vocabulary feels forced at times but is buoyed by the comedy of his misguided chivalry. The genuine concern of the animals for one another, even the villain, underscores the value of compassion and camaraderie. Full-color chapter heads are but one feature of the pleasing design.

A delightful adventure about the power of uncommon traits and the joys of newfound friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-944020-00-2

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Fabled Films

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016


Entrancing and uplifting.

A small dog, the elderly woman who owns him, and a homeless girl come together to create a tale of serendipity.

Piper, almost 12, her parents, and her younger brother are at the bottom of a long slide toward homelessness. Finally in a family shelter, Piper finds that her newfound safety gives her the opportunity to reach out to someone who needs help even more. Jewel, mentally ill, lives in the park with her dog, Baby. Unwilling to leave her pet, and forbidden to enter the shelter with him, she struggles with the winter weather. Ree, also homeless and with a large dog, helps when she can, but after Jewel gets sick and is hospitalized, Baby’s taken to the animal shelter, and Ree can’t manage the complex issues alone. It’s Piper, using her best investigative skills, who figures out Jewel’s backstory. Still, she needs all the help of the shelter Firefly Girls troop that she joins to achieve her accomplishment: to raise enough money to provide Jewel and Baby with a secure, hopeful future and, maybe, with their kindness, to inspire a happier story for Ree. Told in the authentic alternating voices of loving child and loyal dog, this tale could easily slump into a syrupy melodrama, but Pyron lets her well-drawn characters earn their believable happy ending, step by challenging step, by reaching out and working together. Piper, her family, and Jewel present white; Pyron uses hair and naming convention, respectively, to cue Ree as black and Piper’s friend Gabriela as Latinx.

Entrancing and uplifting. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-283922-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019


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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