An action-packed, evocative portrayal of courage, friendship, and belonging.


Indian folklore meets fantasy adventure in this captivating novel.

Eleven-year-old Kritika “Kiki” Kallira lives in London with her Mum, an immigrant from the state of Karnataka in the south of India; she’s never met her father, who died before she was born. Kiki’s mother is an animator, and Kiki, who struggles with anxiety and spiraling, obsessive thoughts, finds solace in sketching in her notebooks and imagining stories, especially ones inspired by the Hindu mythology they’ve shared. Now, though, Kiki has unleashed the Asura king Mahishasura from his exile through the drawings in her sketchbook. As she travels and travails between London and Mysore, the heroes and demons she’s sketched come to life, and she is faced with seemingly insurmountable tasks and complex obstacles. In her quest to save the world, Kiki shows readers the power of asking for help, believing in oneself, and overcoming fear. The worldbuilding is full of vibrant images and detailed descriptions about Mahishasura’s kingdom and palace, Lalith Mahal. The novel draws inspiration primarily from the story of Mahishasura—who wanted to be immortal—and how he was defeated by the goddess Chamundeshwari. Anxiety and mental health are also explored with honesty and finesse; many young readers will resonate with her struggle to quiet demons both internal and external.

An action-packed, evocative portrayal of courage, friendship, and belonging. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20697-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

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A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem.


A middle schooler struggles to adjust after moving to an idyllic Massachusetts town.

Trish Das is at a crossroads. Not only is the 12-year-old unhappy that her family has moved yet again due to her mother’s cardiology career, she also has to try out for a new baseball team. The fact that one of her new teammates is a former archrival further complicates matters. Math prodigy Ben Messina went head-to-head against fellow math whiz Trish at last spring’s Math Puzzlers Championship. When Trish emerged victorious, Ben was stunned. The two get closer when the team’s mysterious pregame snacks start making everyone play better while also causing magical side effects during games. Equally surprising are the cryptic puzzle booklets Trish and Ben receive in the mail that lead them to even more wins. But as the puzzles get harder to solve, the risk of failing to do so increases. Alternating between Trish’s and Ben’s perspectives, LaRocca’s novel—a companion to 2019’s Midsummer’s Mayhem—is a Much Ado About Nothing homage that explores parental expectations, complicated friendships, and teamwork. The protagonists’ love of problem-solving shines through, and the puzzles themselves are clearly explained. As a third-generation Indian American, Trish also has moving conversations about the circumstances that led her grandparents to emigrate and how those decisions still impact their lives. Ben is implied White. Final illustrations not seen.

A moving tale of baseball, magic, and former rivals who come together to solve a problem. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1101-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Yellow Jacket

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A brisk launch well endowed with surprising exploits and ominous portents.


From the Once Upon Another Time series , Vol. 1

A young giant has identity issues—no surprise, being as she’s only 5 1/2 feet tall.

Disingenuously apologizing to young readers for trying so hard to make them cry (and promising more of the same in future episodes), Riley pits a short-but-mighty giant and an aggrieved preteen genie against an annoyingly clever king who has gone decisively to the dark side. Her fervent hopes of being accepted as a giant met with harsh rejection, Lena flees down from the clouds to seek comfort from the mysterious Last Knight and have her real nature revealed by a drink from ex-witch Mrs. Hubbard’s Cauldron of Truth. First, though, she runs into Jin, a thoroughly chapped genie banished into a ring until he demonstrates humility, who’s currently under the thumb (literally) of fiendish King Midas. Most of the action takes place around the Cursed City, a hidden settlement populated by well-known figures, from Pinocchio to Humpty Dumpty, that both Midas and the giants have sworn to destroy. After many setbacks and twisty takes on fairy-tale tropes, the end leaves most of the city intact; Jin and Lena, who are plainly made for each other (though neither is anywhere near admitting it yet), freer to act than they were; and larger scale villainy and betrayal afoot. The cast members, or those not made of wood or gingerbread anyway, present White.

A brisk launch well endowed with surprising exploits and ominous portents. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2587-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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