cover image Keeper of the Rend

Keeper of the Rend

Lisa Maxwell. McElderry, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3190-4

After his father loses his job and the family moves to a farm belonging to “aunt or a second cousin” Nana Susan, 10-year-old aspiring ornithologist Xavier T. Fletcher’s passion for bird-watching leads him to discover a strange tear in the sky. He also encounters enigmatic tween Clementine, who he’s devastated to learn has been shooting birds out of the sky with a slingshot. Clem assures him that it’s her job—her family has been secretly guarding the spot for years—and that the avians aren’t birds but creatures from inside the rend, “the place between This Side, where we are, and the Nother’s Side.” And if Clem can’t stop the birdlike critters from leaving the Nother, Xavier, his family, and the natural world will be in grave danger. In her middle grade debut, Maxwell (the Last Magician series) presents through a realistic lens an approachable, magical adventure that’s reminiscent of A Wrinkle in Time. Alongside examinations of ecological conservation, Maxwell paints a textured portrait of complex familial dynamics via Xavier’s tumultuous relationship with his family, conveying how these interactions—including Xavier’s older brother’s bullying and his parents’ refusal to acknowledge it—impact Xavier’s trust. Main characters read as white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Kathleen Rushall, Andrea Brown Literary. (Aug.)