THE OKAY WITCH AND THE HUNGRY SHADOW

From the Okay Witch series , Vol. 2

Moth Hush, the Okay Witch, is back for another adventure, grappling with middle school bullies and magical mayhem in this second series installment.

Moth Hush is still coming to terms with the revelation of her witchy heritage and magical abilities, but winter break is over, and it is time to head back to school and peers who were cruel even before magic entered her life. When Moth discovers an ancient charm that promises to grant her the confidence and social charisma that she lacks, it seems too good to be true. With the help of the charm, Moth soon finds her star rising, even receiving a nomination for the honor of Founderella, to be crowned at the Valentine’s Ball. Use of the charm has one major downside, however, as it invites the interference of a shadowy demonic presence. In a climax that is part Sabrina the Teenage Witch and part Carrie, Moth must face down not only the demon from the charm, but her own personal demons as well. Moth, who presents as Black and whose family traces its roots to a small fictional island off the Iberian coast, is a relatable hero readers can’t help but root for. While she grapples with the usual middle school angst surrounding identity, self-esteem, and where she fits in, she also forces the town and readers to confront issues of racism and privilege that are as pervasive in the town of Founder’s Bluff as they are in real life.

Magical and charming. (Graphic fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3149-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Readers will be irresistibly drawn into Harry's world by GrandPre's comic illustrations and Rowling's expert combination of...

HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998) brings back the doughty young wizard-in-training to face suspicious adults, hostile classmates, fretful ghosts, rambunctious spells, giant spiders, and even an avatar of Lord Voldemort, the evil sorcerer who killed his parents, while saving the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from a deadly, mysterious menace.

Ignoring a most peculiar warning, Harry kicks off his second year at Hogwarts after a dreadful summer with his hateful guardians, the Dursleys, and is instantly cast into a whirlwind of magical pranks and misadventures, culminating in a visit to the hidden cavern where his friend Ron's little sister Ginny lies, barely alive, in a trap set by his worst enemy. Surrounded by a grand mix of wise and inept faculty, sneering or loyal peers—plus an array of supernatural creatures including Nearly Headless Nick and a huge, serpentine basilisk—Harry steadily rises to every challenge, and though he plays but one match of the gloriously chaotic field game Quidditch, he does get in plenty of magic and a bit of swordplay on his way to becoming a hero again.

Readers will be irresistibly drawn into Harry's world by GrandPre's comic illustrations and Rowling's expert combination of broad boarding school farce and high fantasy. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 2, 1999

ISBN: 0-439-06486-4

Page Count: 341

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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