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Laurel Colless
Renegale Tales

Middle Grade; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Publish)

Renegale Tales (A Peter Blue series novel) When 11-year-old Peter Blue and his team are sent on a quest to catch a group of Renegale imps, bad baby gales, they have no idea where to start – how do you catch the wind? But Peter’s mentor Agent Fleur has enough to worry about with a toxic yellow fog attack on seven cities. Then Wanda Shore gets a big idea to fix the fog even though she’s totally unqualified and just flexing to her followers, says her soon-to-be roommate Riva du Lac. The adventure takes them to an active volcano where they soon figure out that the yellow fog and the Renegales are connected. But digging too deep will be dangerous and may also bring to light a dark and unwelcome secret from Peter’s past that he’s not going to like.

With an eye toward environmental education and adventure, Colless (Eye of the Stormlord) brings 11-year-old Peter Blue and his friends to brilliant life in the series’ second science-fantasy for young readers. As initiates of the Spiral Hall School, an elite school raising eco-intelligent and environmentally conscious aware young people, Peter and his band are just beginning on their journey. Spiral Hall is connected to GAIA—Global Advanced Intelligence Agency —offering the students unheard-of opportunities to learn from the best. From serious Riva to expansive-thinking, social media-minded Wanda to Chu, the team’s scientist, the tweens band together, with others, when Agent Artiss Fleur, a friend of Peter’s newly rescued GAIA-agent father, gives Peter a mission: capture three juvenile Anthrogs, known as Renegales, who managed to breach the school’s force field and are bedeviling the area.

Meanwhile, the adults are busy dealing both with a mysterious fog that only targets children, plus the looming threat of Big Garbage Inc. and its army of elemental Anthrogs. This adventure sends our heroes on epic quests to save the world—literally and figuratively as Colless explores both science heroism and relatable, easy-to-achieve goals to help on a local and global scale. Each of the very diverse characters has something to offer the team—whether it be technical savvy, out-of-the-box thinking (as is the case with Wanda’s big idea to learn more about the yellow fog) or Riva and Peter’s leadership skills.

Scientific principles are celebrated, but fantasy also plays a large role in the novel, particularly in the anthropomorphizing of elements such as wind in such a way that they’re seen as complementary rather than opposing forces, offering fresh options for flights of imagination. While the adults and villains may come across at times as stereotypical and two-dimensional, the message underlying the narrative speaks to tolerance, grace and the importance of making one’s own decisions in situations—teaching children to follow their instincts. Readers will be captivated by this unlikely band of heroes.

Takeaway: Young eco-warriors take to sea and sky to save the world.

Comparable Titles: Jess Redman’s The Adventure Is Now, Emma Shevah’s How to Save the World with a Chicken and an Egg.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Kirkus Reviews

In the second book of Colless’ middle-grade science-fantasy series, Peter Blue and his talented friends must foil a plot involving strange imps and yellow fog.

Wanda Shore is secretly burying a toy plastic unicorn, since her new school, Spiral Hall, is a plastic-free campus: “It turned out, getting into the top school to save the world came with a sacrifice.” Suddenly, a strange wind kicks up and digs up all her items, but she must temporarily leave the mess behind, because Spiral Hall is having its opening assembly of the year.The strange wind is actually made ofyoung creatures called Renegale imps, who wreak havoc on the school after passing through its protective shield; they destroy a wind turbine and kill a flock of pelicans. The diverse mix of students, in addition to Wanda (a huge fan of the social media app ChattaFox), includes her roommate, Riva du Lac; the upbeat Roly Portagalo; science enthusiast Chu Lee Wong; Tipi Patel, who can communicate with nature spirits; and Peter Blue, a low-tech student who’s a natural leader. On his way to the assembly, Peter is asked by Global Advanced Intelligence Agency agent Artiss Fleur to gather a small group to catch the imps, whose playful games are causing the problems. At the assembly, Della Rex, vice president of the intelligence agency GAIA, reveals that a yellow fog has been unleashed on five cities, rendering their children ill. Could these events be connected? Over the course of this adventure, Colless effectively raises the stakes when three children accidentally blow out of the school’s protective force field while trying to send the imps home. The story eventually leads readers to an intriguing volcanic island where the imps are created. Along the way, Colless adeptly weaves science fiction, fantasy, and adventure story elements into an engaging tale that features child protagonists and adult antagonists. Overall, it’s a charming and intricate tale that will particularly interest youngsters concerned about environmental issues, which are a key aspect of the series.

A wild and compelling journey for young readers.