­Kenzie’s Kingdom

­Wonderbound. Jul. 2022. 128p. ed. by ed. by Rebecca ­Taylor. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781638490722.
Gr 3-5–Kenzie King, middle child and middle schooler, is miserable working in her family’s medieval-themed luxury resort and fears her lack of aptitude is part of the problem. That starts to change when she accidentally summons a real medieval squire, Gavin, through a time portal. She decides to hide Gavin’s identity in the hope of helping him pass his “Knight’s Challenge,” and since the challenge includes all the activities Kenzie needs to know for the resort, she becomes both student and tutor. Her once estranged younger brother and older sister join in, and soon the foursome are practicing sword fighting, archery, and skilled horseback riding. When they learn an influential travel critic is planning to visit, Gavin is instrumental in preparing the family, but at the last minute, he has to return to his own time. Strengthening her resolve, Kenzie performs her appointed roles, and it works: The critic gives the resort a rave review and soon it is brimming with happy guests. Kenzie begins to understand that no one is perfect, even her family, but that everyone contributes to their success. Fontana uses bright colors, and gutters, panels, inserts and dialogue balloons to deftly move readers along through the story. The action provides adventure, suspense, and humor. The characters are well-developed and believable, drawn in a modified manga style with only skin tone and hair color differentiating them.
VERDICT Readers will want Kenzie and Gavin to succeed as they become stronger, more confident versions of themselves. Give this to fans of “Cleopatra in Space,” “The Baby-Sitters Club,” “All’s Faire in Middle School,” and “Zita, the Spacegirl.”

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