JOHN BELLAIRS'S JOHNNY DIXON IN THE HAND OF THE NECROMANCER

At first, Johnny's most serious problems are right out of the textbook for the budding adolescent: How will he survive the summer without his friend Fergie (he makes a new sandlot pal, Sarah Channing), and what will rescue him from boredom (a job Professor Childermass finds him at the town's Gudge Museum). When Mattheus Mergal, a black-clad, sinister man, appears at the museum and steals some enchanted artifacts, Johnny and Sarah launch their own witch hunt. Some frightening apparitions, terrifying nightmares, and deadly lightning bolts are visited upon the young sleuths, but they remain undaunted. When Mergal kidnaps Professor Childermass to obtain the final talisman he needs, the teens grapple with the necromancer in a battle that will leave one of them lost in the land of the dead for all time. Strickland, in his first solo work featuring the characters created by John Bellairs, leads readers on an entertaining frolic. There are enough well-placed frissons to keep readers flipping those pages, even those who know that, in keeping with series formula, all nefarious plans will be nixed. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1829-2

Page Count: 138

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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GIRL'S BEST FRIEND

From the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries series

In this series debut, Maggie Sinclair tracks down a dognapper and solves a mystery about the noises in the walls of her Brooklyn brownstone apartment building. The 12-year-old heroine, who shares a middle name—Brooklyn—with her twin brother, Finn, is juggling two dogwalking jobs she’s keeping secret from her parents, and somehow she attracts the ire of the dogs’ former walker. Maggie tells her story in the first person—she’s self-possessed and likable, even when her clueless brother invites her ex–best friend, now something of an enemy, to their shared 12th birthday party. Maggie’s attention to details helps her to figure out why dogs seem to be disappearing and why there seem to be mice in the walls of her building, though astute readers will pick up on the solution to at least one mystery before Maggie solves it. There’s a brief nod to Nancy Drew, but the real tensions in this contemporary preteen story are more about friendship and boy crushes than skullduggery. Still, the setting is appealing, and Maggie is a smart and competent heroine whose personal life is just as interesting as—if not more than—her detective work. (Mystery. 10-13)

   

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 967-1-59990-525-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY

From the Joey Pigza series , Vol. 1

If Rotten Ralph were a boy instead of a cat, he might be Joey, the hyperactive hero of Gantos's new book, except that Joey is never bad on purpose. In the first-person narration, it quickly becomes clear that he can't help himself; he's so wound up that he not only practically bounces off walls, he literally swallows his house key (which he wears on a string around his neck and which he pull back up, complete with souvenirs of the food he just ate). Gantos's straightforward view of what it's like to be Joey is so honest it hurts. Joey has been abandoned by his alcoholic father and, for a time, by his mother (who also drinks); his grandmother, just as hyperactive as he is, abuses Joey while he's in her care. One mishap after another leads Joey first from his regular classroom to special education classes and then to a special education school. With medication, counseling, and positive reinforcement, Joey calms down. Despite a lighthearted title and jacket painting, the story is simultaneously comic and horrific; Gantos takes readers right inside a human whirlwind where the ride is bumpy and often frightening, especially for Joey. But a river of compassion for the characters runs through the pages, not only for Joey but for his overextended mom and his usually patient, always worried (if only for their safety) teachers. Mature readers will find this harsh tale softened by unusual empathy and leavened by genuinely funny events. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-374-33664-4

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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