Perfect for eager readers of animal adventures.

CREATURES OF THE FLOOD

From the Bamboo Kingdom series , Vol. 1

The first in a new series by the pseudonymous authorial collaboration, this one focusing on pandas.

In the midst of a devastating flood, a giant panda reaches the security of a cave where she can safely birth her cubs. In an initially confusing timeline, the tale then takes up much later with Leaf, who is maturing among a group of pandas in a barren countryside. On the other side of an uncrossable river, Rain, another intrepid panda, is growing up in the Southern Forest, where more previously solitary pandas have gathered. When Sunset Deepwood, the prophesying Dragon Speaker, returns—seemingly from the dead—Rain is immediately suspicious of his behavior, especially concerning his secret meetings with antagonistic monkeys. The storyline switches between these two females and Ghost, a clumsy all-white male who has grown up with his presumed littermates under the tender care of their snow leopard mother, Winter. Although he knows he differs from the other cubs in significant ways, Ghost has no idea he’s actually a panda. After a large earthquake, Leaf comes under the care of Shadowhunter, a tiger who’s sworn to reunite triplet pandas who are destined together to become the next Dragon Speakers, setting up another entry in the series. The animals are well depicted, with clear personalities, and the challenges they face are daunting, nicely sustaining the suspense. Illustrations not seen.

Perfect for eager readers of animal adventures. (map) (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-302192-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Entrancing and uplifting.

STAY

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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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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