Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Kingston and the Magician's Lost and Found

Moses, Rucker and Gangi, Theo. Kingston and the Magician's Lost and Found
October 27th 2020 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Kingston and his mother had moved to the suburbs after his magician father's disappearance during a magic act four years ago, but they are back in Echo Park, Brooklyn to try to revitalize the family business so it is not foreclosed. Kingston's uncles, Crooked Eye and Long Fingers, haven't had a sale in the magic shop for well over a year, so the mother wants to turn it into a cafe, her long time dream. While being back in the city stirs up painful memories of his absent father, whom he believes will return, Kingston is glad to reconnect with his cousin Veronica and his best friend, Too Tall. After seeing a shadowy figure at the Mercury Theater, where his father's act ended in tragedy, Kingston goes back to investigate with his friends. He finds a box of his father's, the Lost and Found, which seems to imbue him with some strange powers. The group connects with a person who was seen with his father, Urma Tan, and she claims that there are two realms, and Kingston's father is trapped in the one from which she came. She is able to stay in our realm only through the power of crystals, and she needs their help to be able to maintain her presence. They are understandably leery, and investigate other options, eventually coming into contact with the children of their father's nemesis, the Maestro, who was responsible for the trick that caused his disappearance. Sol and Sula are knowledgeable, and soon Kingston is swept into the other realm, where he meets famous black magicians. Will this journey enable him to find his father and bring him back to Echo City?
Strengths: Kingston's desire to figure out the magic in his world and the adjoining realm to bring his father back forms a strong central premise to this well-paced and engaging fantasy novel. Although Echo Park and the Mercury Theater seem to be fictional locations, they provide an interesting setting for the magic that occurs. There are a lot of interesting codes as well. The best part is the inclusion of actual Black magicians from history, like Black Herman and Richard Potter. It's always great to be introduce students to unheralded historical figures through fiction.
Weaknesses: It has been difficult to determine if the authors are Black, since these seem to be pseudonyms for Craig Phillips and Harold Hayes, Jr. of Sunnyboy Entertainment. Mr. Hayes seems to be Black, but I can't find information about Mr. Phillips. With the interest in providing #ownvoices books to students, it would be helpful if this information were easier to identify.
What I really think: My students aren't super keen about books involving magicians, but this has a bit more adventure to it. It reminded me a little of Henderson's The Magic in Changing Your Stars (April 7th 2020 by Sterling Children's Books), but with famous Black magicians instead of tap dancers. I will probably purchase. (It's currently 6/29/20, and I feel like my entire life should be couched with the word "probably". Will I have a budget? Will school open? Will I have a job?)

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