SHADOW-CATCHER

Jonathan’s the youngest in his Maine farm family, full of notions gathered from his reading of dime novels about adventure and about city life. But when his grandfather, the itinerant photographer, decides to take him along on his summer rounds, Jonathan’s not at all sure of his desires. Grandpa is a Civil War veteran, taciturn and sometimes cold, who holds his thoughts and his secrets deep within himself. So when Jonathan watches Grandpa as he photographs an astonishing scene of logging over whitewater rapids, the images Jonathan carries—of a floating roof and a frantic man in a checkered shirt—might not be the ones in the photograph. Arriving in a town called Masham, Jonathan is astonished to learn that his grandfather has a photography gallery and Annie, the spirited daughter of the woman who runs it, calls Grandpa “Uncle Rodney.” Grandpa keeps putting off developing the pictures, even though a local man seems very interested in seeing them. The mystery of what the pictures reveal is at the heart of a resolution, which means new lives for both Grandpa and Jonathan. The story is rich in detailing how photographs were made in the 1890s, and how folks would queue up at fairs and job sites to have their pictures taken. The joys of reading—from Dickens to dime novels—and the ungentle treatment of both Native Americans and people of mixed blood like Annie loop deftly into the plot. Intriguing and satisfying to the end. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: May 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-17862-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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NIM'S ISLAND

A child finds that being alone in a tiny tropical paradise has its ups and downs in this appealingly offbeat tale from the Australian author of Peeling the Onion (1999). Though her mother is long dead and her scientist father Jack has just sailed off on a quick expedition to gather plankton, Nim is anything but lonely on her small island home. Not only does she have constant companions in Selkie, a sea lion, and a marine iguana named Fred, but Chica, a green turtle, has just arrived for an annual egg-laying—and, through the solar-powered laptop, she has even made a new e-mail friend in famed adventure novelist Alex Rover. Then a string of mishaps darkens Nim’s sunny skies: her father loses rudder and dish antenna in a storm; a tourist ship that was involved in her mother’s death appears off the island’s reefs; and, running down a volcanic slope, Nim takes a nasty spill that leaves her feverish, with an infected knee. Though she lives halfway around the world and is in reality a decidedly unadventurous urbanite, Alex, short for “Alexandra,” sets off to the rescue, arriving in the midst of another storm that requires Nim and companions to rescue her. Once Jack brings his battered boat limping home, the stage is set for sunny days again. Plenty of comic, freely-sketched line drawings help to keep the tone light, and Nim, with her unusual associates and just-right mix of self-reliance and vulnerability, makes a character young readers won’t soon tire of. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81123-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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