An enjoyable and well-told story of magic and mystery.

THE MIDNIGHT GLASS

A boy seeks to unlock the secrets of the cursed town of Davenport in this debut middle-grade novel.

When his widowed mother takes a job in a new town, 11-year-old Wyatt Dumont doesn’t mind moving. At least it will get him away from the local bully. Wyatt’s older sister, Roxanne, a moody goth teenager, isn’t as thrilled to leave her friends behind. And there is more that their mom isn’t telling them: “If we move there,” Roxy tells Wyatt, “she has to sign a contract for a year, and none of us can leave, not even for vacation.” Wyatt’s mom refuses to explain. Once the family drives through the dark forest that isolates the town of Davenport, the trio is let through a strange iron gate by a masked figure. Wyatt can’t help but wonder what is going on, but he starts to agree with his sister that moving was a mistake when he spots a 10-legged spider creeping through his new room. Shortly after, he finds out that the town is cursed and has been in unbroken night for the last 400 years. From there the mystery only deepens as Wyatt meets the peculiar denizens of Davenport and learns the source of the curse and discovers an ancient artifact. While finding new friends at school (and a new bully to deal with as well), Wyatt begins to understand that something strange—stranger than usual, anyway—is happening in Davenport. Vaughn has filled the world of the novel with fascinatingly unique creatures (“Wyatt looked into the darkness to see a smiling man with green skin and broad, finlike ears”). The author has tied them together in a twisted plot that should compel readers to keep turning pages to find the answers to the many enigmas of Davenport. What happened to the town and its people, what are they afraid of beyond the gate, and what role will Wyatt and his friends play? Most of all, what exactly is the Midnight Glass, and will it be the town’s salvation or its doom?

An enjoyable and well-told story of magic and mystery.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9963653-0-7

Page Count: 243

Publisher: Branford Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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