Affecting and unforgettable.

ONE JAR OF MAGIC

Rose Alice Anders learns magic can’t fix everything, despite what her father has always told her.

The daughter of the most magical man in town, Rose is destined to follow in his footsteps. When she turns 12, she can finally join the rest of her community and participate in the annual capturing of magic on New Year’s Day. But when the day arrives, she only manages to catch one measly jar of magic. Her father is furious, and to make things worse, her relationship with her best friend is falling apart. Rose feels like an utter failure until she learns that some people are “Not Meant for Magic,” an option she never knew existed. As she begins to question who she’s truly meant to be, she also starts to acknowledge the painful truth about her father. The worldbuilding and magic system are enchanting and expertly crafted, but the core of this gorgeously written story isn’t magic at all: It’s abuse—and it’s absolutely heartbreaking and completely realistic. While the abuse is never downplayed, this heavy subject is approached through Rose’s first-person narration in a way that is fitting for its intended audience. The characters are richly developed and emotionally complex; a beautiful, tender sibling relationship stands out, showing mutual understanding and emotional support in ways both large and small. The ending is empowering and plausibly hopeful. Characters are White by default.

Affecting and unforgettable. (author's note, resources) (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-268985-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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