Happily, Kerley’s execution matches her ambition, resulting in a highly readable story that pairs a rapid-fire plot with a...


There is a lot going on in this mystery/sci-fi/coming-of-age adventure about a girl and the charismatic dog next door.

When Professor Reese moves in with her giant, gray, shaggy dog, Baxter, next door to 11-year-old Jordie Marie Wallace, Jordie’s life changes in a number of ways: she’s always wanted a dog; she awakens to the lure of scientific discovery; and she experiences a number of “opportunities to be more dependable.” Dense plotlines weave together many intertwining threads, but it all fits together. A subplot about Jordie’s participation in a “Study Buddies” project and one about her circle of friends’ plan to open a hairdresser/vet/day care both turn out to be key to the development of her self-awareness. This is all back story to the main storyline: Jordie volunteers to walk Baxter while Professor Reese works on her research into the possibility of teleportation. When Professor Reese disappears, Jordie, her brother, and “magical” Baxter work together to solve the case. Clues to Jordie’s strengths and challenges are not explicitly articulated but are aptly shown through other characters’ reactions. Her relationships with friends and family are realistic, which juxtaposes cleverly with the speculative aspect of the plot. The book subscribes to the white default, with racial diversity hinted at in supporting characters’ names.

Happily, Kerley’s execution matches her ambition, resulting in a highly readable story that pairs a rapid-fire plot with a likable protagonist. (Science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-249978-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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


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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