17 Oct / Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend [Winnie Zeng, Book 1] by Katie Zhao [in School Library Journal]
“Middle school. Is there a scarier place on the planet?” 11-year-old Winnie laments. “In books and movies, everything bad happens in middle school.” She’s not wrong, alas. Plenty of scary and worse are about to happen in sixth grade, but good will conquer a lot.
Hoping to win a bake sale challenge against her frenemy David, Winnie uses her late grandmother’s cookbook to make mooncakes. Maybe it was that “essence of the moon” ingredient, but Winnie’s pet rabbit insists she’s Lao Lao in spirit, announcing Winnie’s shaman powers are dormant no more. Mythical mayhem ensues. Besides surviving sixth grade, Winnie also needs to save the world from evil spirits.
Verdict: Annie Q sounds like a youthful, cultural (Chinese American) match for introducing bestselling author Zhao’s new series, but her often overenthusiastic delivery pushes reluctant hero Winnie and her cohorts into farcical realms.
From the introduction: For the latest audio roundup, we turn to titles inspired by fairy tales and mythology, each published in 2022. Rewriting, adapting, subverting the familiar has long been a popular literary trope – who can argue with universal appeal? Cinderella, especially, continues to be an evergreen favorite, appearing in multiple stories, often in surprising permutations. Read (and listen) on!
Readers: Middle Grade