In an era where athletes are worshipped like gods, this book’s creators are simply on-brand.

THE TREE OF ECROF

From the Epoca series , Vol. 1

Conceptualized by Academy Award–winning basketball player Kobe Bryant and written by author and athlete Claire, this amiable novel aims high in its worldbuilding.

And complicated it is, from the parentage of the 10-year-old protagonists on up. Princess Pretia Praxis-Onera is the tan-skinned, black-haired, green-eyed, and mixed-heritage daughter of the scandalously wed rulers of the kingdom of Epoca, and Rovi Myrios is the sun-tanned, orphaned street-urchin son of Pallas Myrios, a once-legendary, then disgraced-and-exiled Visualization Trainer. Pretia’s and Rovi’s lives intertwine when Epoca’s sacred scrolls state they are chosen to train at Ecrof Academy, the premiere training school for athletes. There, both attempt to come to terms with their familial and personal pasts as they learn to harness their granas, or divinely granted talents. The narrative constantly reminds readers that this book emulates the capital-A athlete, both via its harkening back to ancient Greece—witness the highly borrowed or derivative names of both places, like the Athletos Stadium and Mount Oly, and people such as Queen Helena and King Airos—and the item the main characters covet: a pair of golden sneakers called Grana Gleams. In and around all this, however, the creator and author spin an interesting, quickly paced tale.

In an era where athletes are worshipped like gods, this book’s creators are simply on-brand. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949520-07-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

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A work of heavy, realistic fiction told with oddball humor, honesty, and heart.

I'M OK

When Korean-American Ok Lee loses his father in a construction accident, he and his mom must fend for themselves financially while quietly grieving.

Middle schooler Ok watches as his mother takes on multiple jobs with long hours trying to make ends meet. Determined to help, he sets his sights on his school’s talent show. The winner takes home $100 in cash, enough to pay the utilities before they get cut off. His search to find a bankable talent is complicated by unwanted attention from bully Asa, who’s African-American, and blackmail at the hands of a strange classmate named Mickey, who’s white. To make matters worse, his mother starts dating Deacon Koh, “the lonely widower” of the First Korean Full Gospel Church, who seems to have dubious motives and “tries too hard.” Narrator Ok navigates this full plot with quirky humor that borders on dark at times. His feelings and actions dealing with his grief are authentic. Most of the characters take a surprising turn, in one way or another helping Ok despite initial, somewhat stereotypical introductions and abundant teasing with racial jokes. Although most of the characters go through a transformation, Ok’s father in comparison is not as fleshed-out, and Asa’s African-American Vernacular English occasionally feels repetitive and forced.

A work of heavy, realistic fiction told with oddball humor, honesty, and heart. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1929-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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An entertaining continuation to a magical series that celebrates diversity with a magical twist.

WISHED

From the Fairy Tale Reform School series , Vol. 5

With Rumpelstiltskin and his band of villains still on the loose, the students and staff of Fairy Tale Reform School are on high alert as they prepare for the next attack.

Classes are devoted to teaching battle techniques and conjuring new weapons, which narrator Gilly finds preferable to learning history or manners. But Maxine, her ogress friend, has had it with all the doom and gloom. The last straw is when the agenda at the Royal Lady-in-Waiting meeting is changed from “How to Plan the Perfect Fairy Garden Party” to designing flying rocks and creating flower darts. While on a class field trip to the village to investigate their future careers, Maxine finds a magic lamp housing a genie named Darlene. Her wish that everyone be happy works a little too well. War preparations are put on hold as the school fills with flowers, laughter, and plans for a musical production. But when Gilly is tapped to fill in for the local chief of the dwarf police, things really take a turn for the worse. The students, including fairies, ogres, and the part-human/part-beast offspring of Beauty and the ex-Beast, focus on friendship and supporting one another in spite of their differences. Humility, forgiveness, and loyalty are also highly regarded in the FTRS community. Human Gilly is white, but there is racial as well as species diversity at FTRS.

An entertaining continuation to a magical series that celebrates diversity with a magical twist. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5167-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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