A riotously entertaining series closer that should appeal to fantasy-loving children of all ages.

Jim Morgan and the Door at the Edge of the World

A boy-pirate hero attempts to save the world in the high-spirited conclusion to Raney’s (Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull, 2013, etc.) middle-grade fantasy series.

Over the course of earlier installments, the orphaned Jim Morgan, currently 14, went from the lap of luxury as an English lord’s son to an adventurous life as a pirate and thief, sailing the seas on a mighty ship, the Spectre, with his friends and co-conspirators, Lacey and brothers George and Peter Ratt. In the last book, Jim came into possession of an incredibly powerful magical object, the Hunter’s Shell; it was split in two, and one half wound up in the hands of the evil Count Cromier and his son, Bartholomew. In this installment, Jim and his friends vow to destroy the Shell before the Cromiers can use it to find the golden trident known as the Treasure of the Ocean, which could doom the world if wielded by the wrong person. Their quest sets them in the path of other pirates, as well as magical creatures, such as dragons, merfolk, ogres and a devious talking cat called Janus Blacktail. The story ends by revealing secrets of Jim’s lineage that will change his life forever. Raney crafts a swashbuckling adventure that’s genuinely thrilling, not only in its rapid pacing, but also in its extremely clever plotting and endlessly inventive set pieces, which mix and match historical and mythological references in a seamless mélange. It captures the flavor of old-fashioned serials and features fleshed-out, youthful protagonists whose lives are a joy to follow. Although this tale is clearly intended to be the culmination of a three-book journey, Raney presents the material in such a way that even someone who joined the ride late won’t have any trouble following the story and, more importantly, caring about the characters and their quest. Overall, this suspenseful, engrossing novel has all the sophistication of the very best YA best-sellers.

A riotously entertaining series closer that should appeal to fantasy-loving children of all ages.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9858359-7-2

Page Count: 396

Publisher: Dreamfarer Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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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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