A good resource for established fans.

GRIFFITH'S GUIDE FOR DRAGON MASTERS

A DRAGON MASTERS SPECIAL EDITION

From the Dragon Masters series

An informational guidebook to the characters and worldbuilding of the Dragon Masters series.

It seems that Griffith of the Green Fields, the royal wizard of the kingdom of Bracken, wants to compile his wizardly research and wisdom into a book, so he has enlisted his friend “Tracey of the West” to pull together a Dragon Masters guidebook from his notes and the contributions of his other friends. The book is primarily organized into illustration-heavy two-page spreads consisting of maps, character profiles (with plenty of information on each Dragon Master’s type of dragon, of course), important objects, and snippets of the world’s history. The diversity among Dragon Masters is foregrounded. The book explicitly states that the Dragon Masters come from all over the world (which is reflected in their racial presentations in the full-color illustrations as well as the cultural notes and illustrations of the regions they come from). Furthermore, some have disabilities, as they are no barrier to a person’s becoming a Dragon Master; all candidates need is to “have good hearts.” Though most profiles provide plenty of context clues as to any given character’s ethnicity and their kingdom’s real-world analog, a map placing characters on continents shaped like Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania erases ambiguity. There is an inescapably “It’s a Small World”–esque feel to it all, but it certainly means well. The informational format works well for reluctant and below–grade-level readers, and it will help maintain interest in the series for maturing readers more inclined to game guides than fiction.

A good resource for established fans. (Fantasy. 6-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-54034-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

THE MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER

Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse.

MEET THE BIGFEET

From the Yeti Files series , Vol. 1

It’s a Bigfeet family reunion!

Everyone’s favorite frosty, furry cryptid, the yeti, actually has a name: Blizz Richards. From his supersecret HQ in Nepal he keeps in touch with his fellow cryptids, all of whom have sworn an oath to keep themselves hidden. That’s not always easy, especially when there are cryptozoologists, like the nasty (but bumbling) George Vanquist, who are always trying to expose the secretive creatures. Vanquist got a picture of Blizz’s cousin Brian near his home in British Columbia, causing the mortified Brian to disappear entirely. When Blizz receives an invitation to a Bigfeet family reunion in Canada, he calls his buddies Alexander (one of Santa’s elves), Gunthar (a goblin) and Frank the Arctic fox to help him get ready. When they arrive in Canada, Brian is still nowhere to be seen. Can Blizz and his skunk ape and other sasquatch cousins find Brian, have the reunion and evade Vanquist? If anyone can, the Bigfeet clan can. Illustrator Sherry’s first volume in the Yeti Files is a fast and funny graphic-prose tale full of labeled pictures and comic-style panels. Those just starting chapter books may have some trouble with a few big words, but they’ll enjoy the big friendly monsters and immediately ask for the next tale—which looks to be about the Loch Ness monster.

Good-hearted fun—great for fans of Kit Feeny and Babymouse. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-55617-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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