A Clatter of Jars

224p. Philomel. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399174995.
Gr 4–7—When Liliana Vera arrives at Camp Atropos for Singular Talents, she does so with a heavy heart. Her brother Max should be with her, but three weeks before, she accidentally hurt him. No one knows it was her fault. Now Liliana is stuck dealing with the guilt, her secret about what really happened, and her annoyingly perky stepsister, Hannah. Camp Atropos is for kids with "Talents," abilities that are beyond what a human can normally accomplish. Lily can lift objects with her mind. Hannah makes drinks that evoke memories for people and bring them back to a moment clear as day. Not everyone has a Talent, though, and for many of the Fair, having a Talent is a lifelong dream. There is a black market of sorts, and the director of Camp Atropos is in over her head with dealing and stealing Talent rip-offs. If she's not careful, she may endanger her campers and change the Talented world forever. Readers may remember other Talented characters from A Tangle of Knots, but it's not necessary to have read it to keep up here. Camp director Jo is a complex and sympathetic villain, making an original story even more unique. The tale comes full circle sweetly, with a fun twist that connects lives from both books in an unexpected way. There is, perhaps, an overabundance of characters, each with his or her own special Talent, and a few too many plot lines, making the story a little hard to follow at times. Still, most readers who enjoy magical fantasy set in an otherwise realistic world will likely embrace these new characters.
VERDICT Graff is a master of the magical realism genre, and this offering is worthy of a spot in any middle grade collection.

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