An important story told too remotely to connect.

PEACEMAKER

Bruchac takes readers to the dawn of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Weary of continued war under the warrior chief Atatarho, Okwaho’s family and a few others have made the decision to leave the big village of the Onontaka. But despite their decision to live peacefully apart, they cannot seem to escape the continued warfare among the five nations in the region: Okwaho’s best friend, Tawis, is kidnapped by the Standing Stone warriors of the Oneida while the pair is fishing for trout. Hoping to return to the protection of the big village, Okwaho’s community sends a delegation to negotiate with Atatarho, Okwaho sneaking after to watch and witnessing the chief’s promise of more fighting and death. Then a man called Carries, from the Ganiekehgaono Nation, arrives in Okwaho’s tiny village to tell them stories of a Peacemaker who will come to confront Atatarho. Basing his tale on the real-life story of the forming of the Iroquois Confederacy, as told to him by Haudenosaunee elders, Bruchac relates it through the eyes of Okwaho. This is a vital story to tell, but by positioning Okwaho primarily as an observer, he hobbles the development of a dynamic protagonist. Still, readers who persist to hear the nested stories told by Carries and Okwaho’s clan elders will come away with a new understanding of this moment in history.

An important story told too remotely to connect. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984815-37-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

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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Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people.

GROUND ZERO

Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019.

In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz’s deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn’t extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban’s Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author’s note and in characters’ conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence.

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-24575-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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