A royal adventure with archetype-shattering characters.

THE PRINCE PROBLEM

A spellbound prince and an abducted princess must work together to defeat their enemies.

When a confused witch thinks 13-year-old Prince Telmund is bullying his little brother, she casts a transmogrification spell on him. Every time he falls asleep, he alternates between his human form and an animal form. Meanwhile, 15-year-old Princess Amelia has her own problems. Her parents have decided that it is time for her to be betrothed, solidifying the safety of their kingdom. When Amelia is kidnapped by a neighboring prince and carried away to his kingdom, Telmund comes to her aid, using his rat teeth to gnaw through her bonds. Unfortunately, Amelia is unable to see beyond the surface and dismisses her rescuer with a solid kick. However, whether as a rooster, a goat, or even a dragon, Telmund keeps trying. Amelia refuses to be a victim, relying on her intellect to undermine her captor. The usual model that finds a helpless princess saved by the gallant hero is flipped in this lighthearted exploration of birth order, familial obligations, and friendship. Telmund’s bumbling and Amelia’s annoying superiority make the duo’s escape exciting and realistic. Other than a fairy with silver hair, the only descriptive details point to the white default.

A royal adventure with archetype-shattering characters. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-12151-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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A delectable treat for food and literary connoisseurs alike

MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM

Eleven-year-old Mira “Mimi” Mackson is a baking prodigy from a small Massachusetts town called Comity (a thinly disguised Concord).

Mimi is the youngest member of a large family: Her Indian American mom is a successful software consultant, her white dad is a renowned food writer and critic, and her three older siblings (all biracial, like Mimi) excel at acting, dance, and soccer. Although Mimi enjoys creating new treats for her family and experimenting with uncommon flavors, she sometimes feels out of place and invisible amid her accomplished siblings. When a new bakery in town, the While Away Bakery and Café, announces a baking contest for children, Mimi is excited to compete and show off her talents. Things get complicated, however, when Mimi’s father falls under an enchantment that causes him to not only lose his refined sense of taste, but also eat everything in sight. Loosely based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and inspired by TV shows like The Great British Baking Show, LaRocca’s debut is original and compelling. The realistic characters and complex family dynamics augment the tightly knit plot, and the mouthwatering descriptions of food are guaranteed to make readers hungry. Three recipes at the end of the novel (based on the characters’ concoctions) are an added bonus for those interested in developing their culinary skills.

A delectable treat for food and literary connoisseurs alike . (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0888-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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