cover image The Secret Library

The Secret Library

Kekla Magoon. Candlewick, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5362-3088-8

Magoon (Chester Keene Cracks the Code) champions self-determination while examining race and gender constructs in this high-spirited, South Carolina–set fantasy. Dally Peteharrington, 11, is devastated when her mother won’t let her join Adventure Club because its schedule conflicts with her economics tutoring—lessons Dally needs to eventually succeed her mother as head of Peteharrington Enterprises. Never mind that Dally doesn’t want to run the family business and is grieving the death of Grandpa, who encouraged exploration and fun. To rebel, Dally opens an envelope Grandpa left her that her mom had been keeping until Dally’s 21st year. Inside is a map to an enchanted library. The books within contain secrets pertaining to Dally and her family, and act as portals to the moments when those secrets occurred, were revealed, or were shared. Dally finds her housekeeper’s candy stash, learns how her parents actually met, and crews a pirate ship with an ancestor. Unbeknownst to Dally, however, there are secrets about herself she has yet to uncover. Whimsical worldbuilding, swashbuckling action, and buoyant third-person narration complement Magoon’s vibrant character portraits and twisty, nuanced plot. Dally is biracial (Black and white); the supporting cast is intersectionally diverse. Ages 8–12. Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. (May)