A deliciously offbeat magical adventure.

Eelgrass Bog may be cursed, but Kess has her hopes pinned on what she’ll find there.

Twelve-year-old Kess and her older brother, Oliver, have lived alone in the Unnatural History Museum ever since Mam and Da left for Antarctica on a research trip ever so long ago. Well, there’s also Shrunken Jim, a pickled, disembodied head Kess carries around in a jar, a staunch if unusual friend. Kess hopes that new exhibits will revitalize the museum, and when newcomer Lilou visits, Kess finds a partner in exploration—and what they learn in Eelgrass Bog upends everything Kess thought she knew. Averling’s worldbuilding is deft and beguiling, from Kess’ unfamiliarity with modern tech that tells readers something’s very amiss to the delightful weirdness of the museum and its environs. Averling’s use of the present tense effectively unmoors readers (as well as Kess) from time, and Kess’ voice is a delight. “Oh, vermin,” she curses, and she dismisses Oliver as “a prune-hearted cockroach.” Shining brightest is her endearing relationship with Shrunken Jim—an excellent supporting character for all that he’s brined. Most human characters are cued white; Lilou has two dads, and Kess and Lilou find that they might “like-like” each other, though active romance is left for Kess’ future.

A deliciously offbeat magical adventure. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593624906

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023


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


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

Close Quickview