Rowling’s name on the cover will guarantee mad sales, even for an unadventurous spinoff like this.

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD

THE OFFICIAL SCRIPT BOOK OF THE ORIGINAL WEST END PRODUCTION

The Boy Who Lived may be done with Voldemort, but Voldemort’s not done with him.

Blocked out by all three co-authors but written by Thorne, this play script starts up where Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007) leaves off, then fast-forwards three years. As the plot involves multiple jaunts into the past to right certain wrongs (with all but the last changing the future in disastrous ways), the last Triwizard Tournament and other already-familiar events and locales figure prominently. Also, many favorite characters, even Dumbledore and Snape, trot back onstage to mingle with the now–school-age offspring of Ron, Harry, and Draco. In a fan-fiction–style stretch, the child of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named also plays a part. In the early going at least, the authors faithfully recapture the series’ lively character interplay, and one scene aboard (and atop) the Hogwarts Express particularly echoes some of the original cast’s heady misadventures. And there are measures of banter, tongue-in-cheek dialogue (“HERMIONE: Who are you calling intense?”), and evocative if skimpy stage directions: “[Harry] feels intense pain in his forehead. In his scar. Around him, Dark Magic moves.” But the spellcasting and dramatic crescendos don’t play as well on the page as they might on the stage; the dozens of short, quick-cut scenes chop up the action for readers rather than building dramatic tension. Moreover, the bonding between classmates Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, two self-described “losers,” and the adult Harry’s labored efforts to connect with his alienated middle child distract from a dark-is-rising-again storyline that already leans on unlikely contrivances as it makes its way to a climactic wizardly duel.

Rowling’s name on the cover will guarantee mad sales, even for an unadventurous spinoff like this. (Fantasy. 10 & up)

Pub Date: July 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-338-09913-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2016

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A LONG WALK TO WATER

BASED ON A TRUE STORY

Salva Dut is 11 years old when war raging in the Sudan separates him from his family. To avoid the conflict, he walks for years with other refugees, seeking sanctuary and scarce food and water. Park simply yet convincingly depicts the chaos of war and an unforgiving landscape as they expose Salva to cruelties both natural and man-made. The lessons Salva remembers from his family keep him from despair during harsh times in refugee camps and enable him, as a young man, to begin a new life in America. As Salva’s story unfolds, readers also learn about another Sudanese youth, Nya, and how these two stories connect contributes to the satisfying conclusion. This story is told as fiction, but it is based on real-life experiences of one of the “Lost Boys” of the Sudan. Salva and Nya’s compelling voices lift their narrative out of the “issue” of the Sudanese War, and only occasionally does the explanation of necessary context intrude in the storytelling. Salva’s heroism and the truth that water is a source of both conflict and reconciliation receive equal, crystal-clear emphasis in this heartfelt account. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-25127-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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