For Alan Garner, the power of Celtic myth is inseparable from the power of magic; as he renews the one he frees the other in a remarkable interpretation that leaves the reader wondering. Colin and Susan are already living in two worlds (introduced in The Weirdstone, established concisely here) when the enterprises of men unlooses the formless, speechless Brolligan, blacker than the blackest night, to join the Morrigan or witch-queen, and when the children's own carelessness releases the Einhariar, the Wild Hunters and their antlered leader Garanhir. Ranged against them are the spirits withdrawn from mankind since the Age of Reason: Cadellin the wizard, Uthecar the dwarf, and Atlendor the elf-lord (whose lios-alfar are retreating from the dirt and foul air of men). To wizards and their High Magic of thoughts and spells, the Old Magic is a hindrance, a power without shape or order; they have tried to destroy it before but it would only sleep. Now it threatens the children, especially Susan because she wears the bracelet of ancient silver, the Mark of Fohla. Susan is almost lost, and Colin is captured, before the Old Magic is dispersed but not destroyed in a harrowing confrontation. The words of the hunters trail behind: "Leave her....It will be. But not yet." This exists on a more mythic plane than William Mayne's Earthfasts; both take simultaneity for granted, but here the interest is primarily in the inhabitants of "the world of magic that lies near and unknown to us as the back of a shadow." In a reluctant afterward, Mr. Garner identifies his sources; he has already transcended them in a story that requires but repays close attention.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 1967

ISBN: 0152056300

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Walck

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1967

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Only for dedicated fans of the series.


From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Did you like this book?