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The Hundredth Queen

Emily R. King. Skyscape, $9.99 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-5039-4365-0

A show of loyalty and unexpected strength leads Kalinda, a sickly 18-year-old raised in the sisterhood temple of the Parijana, to the rajah’s throne as one of his numerous wives. But an attack by a bhuta, a magical creature that can create fire, signifies Kali’s own hidden powers and may hold the key to her escape from the kingdom. First in a planned series, King’s debut is built on a solid premise that draws on Sumerian mythology for inspiration, but the execution is left wanting. Kalinda falls for the first man she’s ever seen in her life, the mystery of her lineage becomes clear well before it’s revealed, and Kali’s interactions with the lecherous rajah remain mostly chaste until a jarringly erotic finale. Despite these shortcomings, the tale maintains a consistent thread as King embarks on a deep examination of sisterhood, first between Kali and her best friend Jaya, and later when she must fight the rajah’s other wives to keep her place within the palace. Ages 13–up. Agent: Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary. (June)

Reviewed on 05/26/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Outside In

Jennifer Bradbury. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4424-6827-6

In an inspiring and multilayered story partly based on the life of Nek Chand, a self-taught Indian artist, a homeless teenage orphan scrapes by with his wits on the streets of Chandigarh, a “young” city “built as a symbol of hope and new beginnings.” Running away from a gang of rich boys from whom he won money playing a game called gilli, Ram accidentally drops his winnings and watches Nek, a factory worker, discover the windfall. Intending to steal the money back, Ram follows Nek to a hideout in the woods, where he sees the man using found materials to create a small city with houses, gardens, and an army of laughing statues on property that doesn’t belong to him. From Nek and other friends, Ram learns the story of Rama, which Nek describes as “the story of all of India.... It is every story ever told wrapped into one.” In Ram, Bradbury (River Runs Deep) creates a gutsy, compassionate protagonist who longs to be “more than just a kid who has been left behind.” Ages 8–12. (June)

Reviewed on 05/26/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Girl with the Ghost Machine

Lauren DeStefano. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-68119-444-8

Emmaline Beaumont was 10 years old when her mother died; two years later, her father remains so consumed by grief that it’s almost as if Emmaline has lost both parents. In a desperate attempt to bring his wife back, Monsieur Beaumont tinkers with his “ghost machine” night and day. When Emmaline’s attempt to destroy the machine doesn’t go as planned, she and readers are left pondering the question at the heart of the book: are precious memories of loved ones worth trading for the chance to interact with them one more time? Emmaline’s twin best friends, rational Gully and dreamy Oliver, represent the push and pull between hope and logic that plagues Emmaline and offer her new ways of understanding grief—until a new tragedy casts an even darker shadow on Emmaline’s life. Readers should be prepared for heaviness throughout: the relationships DeStefano (The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart) builds between her characters are sweet and piercingly true, but a deep sadness hangs over most of the interactions. Ages 8–12. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Literary. (June)

Reviewed on 05/26/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Aleca Zamm Is a Wonder

Ginger Rue. Aladdin, $6.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-4814-7060-5

On Aleca’s 10th birthday, her best friend predicts that “today is the day everything changes for Aleca Zamm.” And she’s right: Aleca quickly discovers that, by saying her own name, she can stop time. What does she do with this newfound power? Pull pranks on her classmates, teacher, and principal and cheat on a math test, of course. But before Aleca can move on to dangerously altering the course of human events, her heretofore unknown great-aunt Zephyr shows up to assure her that she’s not a witch but a magically talented “Wonder.” After the funny opening chapters that focus on Aleca’s use (and misuse) of her powers, the novel takes a prolonged detour into the Zamm family’s history of magic. While entertaining, it doesn’t move Aleca’s story along very far, and things seem to end before they ever really begin. Nevertheless, Rue’s (the Tig Ripley novels) heroine is memorably mischievous and strong-willed, which bodes well for her future adventures. Simultaneously available: Aleca Zamm Is Ahead of Her Time. Ages 7–10. Agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (June)

Reviewed on 05/26/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Blue Sky Yellow Kite

Janet A. Holmes, illus. by Jonathan Bentley. Peter Pauper, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4413-2482-5

In this unusual friendship story, originally published in Australia, a girl named Daisy is enchanted by a yellow fish kite she spies soaring in the sky. Following its line, she meets a boy, William, who shows Daisy how to fly it. She is so enamored of the experience that she flies the kite all the way home (“She does not look back once”), keeping it hidden away, partly out of guilt and partly because she isn’t ready to relinquish the kite. Bentley’s illustrations, which combine zigzagging pencil lines with airy splashes of watercolor, feel downright windswept—trees, grasses, the children’s hair, and the unfurling kite string seem to be in constant motion in nearly every scene. Holmes’s clipped text, by comparison, is more down to earth and doesn’t do much to evoke the joy the kite brings Daisy (“When she feels the kite catch the breeze, she releases it”). Although the author avoids spelling out Daisy’s conflicted emotions too blatantly, she never lets her speak (though William gets a few lines), which has the effect of keeping her heroine at arm’s length. Ages 4–8. (June)

Reviewed on 05/26/2017 | Details & Permalink

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New York City Monsters: A Search and Find Book

Anne Paradis, illus. by Lucile Danis Drouot. City Monsters, $9.99 (22p) ISBN 978-2-924734-02-5

Paradis and Drouot take readers on a whimsical tour of the Big Apple in 10 scenes devoted to the city's landmarks and highlights, while simultaneously asking them to locate small (and not-so-small) monsters hidden throughout. The text offers a taste of city life, but the chief source of the book's fun comes from the visual variety of the monsters Drouot includes in her carefully detailed artwork, and the clever ways she hides them: these monsters can be seen driving taxis, blending in with leafy green trees, and looking a lot like typical Times Square tourists—if not for the tusks and tentacles that give them away. Simultaneously available: Chicago Monsters and San Francisco Monsters. Ages 3–up. (May)

Reviewed on 05/26/2017 | Details & Permalink

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