Contrivances aside, a good-hearted story of gladiators, kings, and kids with dreams.

KINGS OF THE COURT

Sameer and Vijay are not great basketball players, but they loyally find ways to contribute to their junior high school team.

Sameer is too short, slow, and unskilled to make the team, and it hurts “that the thing he loved to do was not the thing he happened to be very good at.” But he remembers his grandmother telling him, “Sameer, in basketball, as in life, there are many ways to contribute. And you have a lot to contribute. Find your place.” So, microphone in hand, he calls the action for home basketball games, enthusiastically announcing the play-by-play and whipping the crowds into a frenzy for the Gladiators of Gladys Spinoza. But this seems a contrivance to give Sameer a way to contribute, since basketball games are not normally announced in this manner, at least not at this level. Meanwhile his friend Vijay likewise contributes as the mascot. When the coach goes off the deep end at an away game, a Shakespeare-quoting, Henry V–loving drama teacher who doesn’t really know the game steps in to lead. He inspires the team, with help from Vijay and Sameer, and takes them to the playoffs, thanks to a lottery (another contrivance). The fact that the two kids on the sideline are both “little brown guys” is mitigated by the exuberantly multiracial and multiethnic makeup of their school.

Contrivances aside, a good-hearted story of gladiators, kings, and kids with dreams. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1219-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be...

CIRCUS MIRANDUS

One strange afternoon, 10-year-old Micah Tuttle finds out that magic is real.

Micah always thought Grandpa Ephraim’s wild stories of the centuries-old Circus Mirandus were spun solely for his amusement. But when his dying grandfather writes a letter to the “Lightbender,” hoping to call in the miracle the magician had promised him as a boy, Micah learns the stories were true, and the appearance of Ms. Chintzy, the circus’ cantankerous parrot messenger, clinches the deal. Happily, Micah finds a loyal if somewhat challenging friend to help him track down the elusive light-bending magician: the magic-leery, science-minded Jenny Mendoza. Their budding rapport is nuanced and complex, a refreshing illustration of how absolute like-mindedness is not a prerequisite for friendship. On one level, the book is a fantastical circus romp, with fortunetelling vultures and “a wallaby that could burp the Greek alphabet.” On another, it’s both serious and thick with longing: Micah’s ache for the companionship of his once-vital guardian-grandfather; Grandpa Ephraim’s boyhood yearning for his absent father, as fleshed out in flashbacks; the circus founders’ desire to keep enchantment alive in a world where “faith is such a fragile thing.”

A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be handled with care. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42843-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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