More magic!

These sequels encourage intermediate and middle-school readers to return to favorite fantasy worlds…or to go back and start each series from the beginning.

In Love Sugar Magic: A Sprinkle of Spirits, the second book set in and around the Logroño family's Amor y Azúcar Panaderia bakery, Leonora's friend Caroline tries her own hand at brujería. In so doing she bungles a spell to see her deceased mother, summoning spirits from el Otro Lado. A wide-ranging cast tries to send them back; the result is pure slapstick. Author Anna Meriano smoothly incorporates pre-adolescent issues of friendship and family, as well as a poignant discussion of the grieving process, in her entertaining novel. (HarperCollins/Walden Pond, 8–11 years)

Witch-in-training Aster (The Witch Boy) and his grandmother secretly work to heal his great-uncle Mikasi, stuck in dragon form, in Molly Knox Ostertag's graphic novel The Hidden Witch. Thick black outlines help the muted autumnal colors pop. Varied lettering, balloons, and panel styles add energy and depth. Dialogue and visual cues reveal moments of tension and connection, and the world-building is spot-on. (Scholastic/Graphix, 9–12)

In her second adventure, the title character of Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions by Henry Lien is convinced there's a spy at her skate and sword academy. Then the Empress Dowager announces that Peasprout herself must be tried as a traitor. The strikingly vivid setting is rife with coiling water-dragon threats, manga-esque school fads, and physics-defying skate flips. (Holt, 9–12 years)

In Roshani Chokshi's Aru Shah and the Song of Death, the second book in the Pandava series, Aru is accused of stealing the god of love's bow and arrow and given ten days to return them—or else. The story moves at a breakneck pace as Aru and friends encounter legendary beings, many from Hindu mythology, who comically interact with the modern world. The importance of how one sees oneself is at the heart of this entertaining and empowering tale. (Disney-Hyperion/Riordan, 11–14 years)

From the July 2019 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, formerly editor of The Horn Book Guide, is a freelance children’s and YA editor. She's also a former bookseller who holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons University. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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