Nature, magic, and legend combine to create a world like no other.

THE QUEST OF THE CUBS

From the Bears of the Ice series , Vol. 1

When mercenaries serving an evil cult come to abduct two polar bear cubs, their mother offers herself in exchange for their freedom.

Barely into their second season, the cubs known only as First and Second must fend for themselves in a harsh, frozen land. But while predators, hunger, and weather are constant threats, the two young cubs discover that there are surprising friends willing to help them on their quest to find not only their missing mother, but their estranged father. Even with help from Lago, a Nunquivik fox who shares her hunt, or Jameson, a seal whose quick thinking helps them escape from a pod of hungry killer whales, the cubs must draw on their own resources if they are to survive the journey. Scattered chapters tell of their mother’s captivity at the hands of a cult of bears who worship a giant clock. Lasky once again invites readers into a world where the natural and the supernatural intersect. And while the world of the ice-bound north is beautiful, this is also a cautionary tale about the dangers of mechanization and the tendency to confuse the divine with the profane.

Nature, magic, and legend combine to create a world like no other. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-68304-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Reflective children will revel in this thought-provoking world.

THEY THREW US AWAY

From the Teddies Saga series , Vol. 1

The journey to find a child becomes an existential quest for an abandoned teddy bear.

Buddy is not just any stuffed bear, but a blue Furrington Teddy with a Real Silk Heart. So why did he wake up in a landfill with other Furringtons of varying hues? A more pressing matter, however, is escaping Trashland and its murderous gulls and bulldozers. Yearning to connect with a child and achieve a state of peaceful Forever Sleep, Buddy and his new friends of differing temperaments and gifts set out on a harrowing journey through the city to find children who will want them. As they encounter other Furringtons in disarray, this opener in The Teddies Saga series becomes a mystery about why these teddies are being harmed in the first place. While the visceral narrative follows the teddy troupe’s adventurous challenges and survival, its focus is on Buddy’s inner struggles as he ponders identity, leadership, and other existential dilemmas. Kraus doesn’t shy away from anger, fear, death, and other dark subjects; instead they become opportunities for growth in difficult environments. Cai’s intense, slightly nightmarish grayscale illustrations add immeasurably to the text. Reminiscent of Watership Down in theme and structure, the novel’s intermittent teddy creation stories also become parables of a moral code and extend the epic story arc. A cliffhanger ending sets the scene for the next installment.

Reflective children will revel in this thought-provoking world. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22440-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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An action-packed fantasy containing a surprising twist.

SHINJI TAKAHASHI AND THE MARK OF THE COATL

From the Society of Explorers and Adventurers series , Vol. 1

An old curse and untapped magic lead a boy on a worldwide quest to save his aunt.

Ever since 13-year-old Shinji Takahashi’s parents died, he and his Aunt Yui have lived a life that includes months of travels, hunting for unique items for her shop in Miami. While floating down the Zambezi River, Shinji comes upon a mysterious shop with a small figurine of a Coatl, or mythical feathered serpent, that seems to be calling to him. But after he buys it, Shinji is kidnapped and held captive by the Hightower Corporation in New York City. Aunt Yui is nowhere to be seen—and the Coatl figurine has transformed itself into a tattoo on Shinji’s arm. A Hightower villain informs him that it brings with it a deadly curse. Meanwhile, young prodigy Lucy, who has been working for the corporation, appears in Shinji’s room in the middle of the night: After overhearing Hightower’s evil plans for him, she decides to help him break out. Lucy suggests reaching out to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, Hightower’s archrivals, for help returning the Coatl to its original temple and finding Shinji’s aunt. This intriguing venture builds to a compelling climax. One question that remains unanswered is why Japanese American Shinji, who has no Mesoamerican heritage, is chosen by the Coatl to be its rescuer; perhaps this will be resolved in the next entry in this new series.

An action-packed fantasy containing a surprising twist. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-368-06819-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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