cover image The Secret of the Ravens

The Secret of the Ravens

Joanna Cacao. Clarion, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-358-62944-3; $15.99 paper ISBN 978-0-3586-5011-9

Orphaned twins Elliot and Liza, who are portrayed with tan skin, scavenge and sell recyclables from a landfill to afford food, until they see a boy from their village trap a raven with magic and perform a quest in exchange for coins. After swiping a spellbook from a local shop, they teach themselves magic and follow the ravens’ migration to the dazzling capital city of Kawumiti Kingdom. There, they meet Seb, a brown-skinned mage who offers them membership to the King’s Royal Apprenticeship Program, where they can hone their magic and receive room and board. Elliot and Liza instead decide to keep pursuing ravens until Liza is hurt during a quest, forcing Elliot to team up with his crush Seb to save his sister. As the boys venture, they learn more about a century-old war between their kingdom and the land’s Indigenous magical peoples, and, in the face of mounting danger, question everything they’ve been taught about their history. Through boldly outlined, heavily saturated digital artwork that renders sharp movement and detailed character expressions, Cacao (The Tryout) explores the kingdom’s tumultuous past and introduces a new battle for its youngest citizens as they struggle to trust one another. Ages 8–12. (Nov.)