Ridiculously irresistible, this will leave readers eager for the next escapade.

MAGGIE & ABBY'S NEVERENDING PILLOW FORT

A pillow fort softens the growing pains between besties Maggie and Abby.

Maggie builds a fort while waiting for her “co-secret agent” to return from Camp Cantaloupe, eager to engage in epic imaginary adventures. Once home, Abby builds a matching fort, but she’s ready for real-world games with a wider circle of friends. They seem to be at an impasse until they have a breakthrough—literally, from one fort to the other via a fantastical pillow-fort link. More thrilling, they discover they can travel further afield, such as to Maggie’s uncle Joe in a remote Alaska cabin. It turns out they’re breaking all kinds of rules as per the executive council of the secretive North American Founding and Allied Forts Alliance. The friends each get what they want and then some: NAFAFA intrigue, a worldwide network of magical pillow forts, a centuries-old mystery, and a dose of life-and-death drama. Physical and cultural descriptions of the varied cast are brief, but personalities are vivid and colorful; narrator Maggie appears to be white, while Abby is Latina. Deeper themes of friendship, illness, bravery, and faith are introduced, but debut author Taylor maintains a light touch. Maggie never holds back, giving full vent to her gloriously intrusive imagination, self-doubts, sensitivities, and growing self-awareness. Some of the details are murky, but in a cliffhanger ending, the linchpin to the network seems to be Camp Cantaloupe, and Maggie and Abby hold the key….

Ridiculously irresistible, this will leave readers eager for the next escapade. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-264431-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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A gripping, atmospheric tale of sorcery, secrets, and sisterhood, infused with the titular pinch of magic.

A PINCH OF MAGIC

From the Pinch of Magic series , Vol. 1

When an ancient curse threatens her life and the lives of her sisters, Betty Widdershins seeks a way to break it.

Adventurous, 13-year-old Betty and her two sisters—Fliss, elder, and Charlie, younger—all live on the island of Crowstone in a decrepit village inn operated by their grandmother Bunny, who has always been strangely reluctant to let her granddaughters go anywhere. After Betty’s abortive attempt to surreptitiously leave Crowstone, Bunny reveals the family secret: All Widdershins girls have been under a curse for over 150 years. If one ever leaves Crowstone, she will die by the next sunset. Bunny gives Fliss a mirror, Betty nesting dolls, and Charlie a traveling bag, each containing a different magical power, to use if they need to hide or escape quickly. Intent on altering their fate, the sisters accidentally trigger the curse by leaving Crowstone while helping a young stranger escape from prison. For heroine Betty, who has “spent her life wishing for bigger things,” the imminent threat of losing her sisters proves life-changing. Facing death by the end of the day, Betty must rely on the magical objects, her sisters, and clever thinking to uncover the origins of the Widdershins curse while simultaneously confronting a rapid-fire series of perilous plot twists, betrayals, and shocking revelations in an effort to remake her family history. Betty and her family appear to be white.

A gripping, atmospheric tale of sorcery, secrets, and sisterhood, infused with the titular pinch of magic. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-19331-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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