THE DRUM, THE DOLL, AND THE ZOMBIE

Johnny Dixon and curmudgeonly — extra-curmudgeonly in this outing — Professor Childermass battle a voodoo priestess and her grandson for control of a powerful drum, in this, the third posthumous Bellairs adventure seamlessly "completed" by Strickland. A small ceremonial drum falls into the possession of Dr. Charles Coote, Childermass's friend. Shortly after hiding it, Coote lands in the hospital, delirious — the work, it turns out, of the fearsome Mama Sinestra, a Priest of the Midnight Blood from the (fictional) Caribbean island of St. Ives. Tracking down Mama Sinestra (who is of French descent, not African) involves the zombie attacks, midnight graveyard visits, ambushes, reversals of fortune, nick-of-time rescues, and weird magic that are Bellairs's staples, as well as the discovery and destruction of a pair of particularly hideous soul-suckers Mama has tucked into people's pillows — "It glistened a sick, wet, silvery-gray color, like the slimy belly of a slug. The head showed no eyes or nose, just a pouchy, drooling mouth..." Sweet dreams, readers. But all's well that ends well as Mama Sinestra and her cohorts are vanquished, the drum is destroyed (spectacularly), a revolution on St. Ives topples the ruling cult, and Johnny's long-absent father takes military leave to put in an appearance. Formulaic but effective. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8037-1462-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1994

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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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THE RIGHT-UNDER CLUB

Summertime finds a strange combination of five middle-schoolers high up in a leafy tree house in their newly formed support group, the “R.U. Club,” where the secret is what “R.U.” means and what they do in the club. They could not be more unlike one another and yet each deeply understands what it is like to live in a new family because of death or divorce: They feel like leftovers, “even though we are right under their noses.” Each one takes a turn to describe her concern or worry. Anonymously, in written suggestions and then in group brainstorming sessions, they discuss solutions. Then as the girls put their trust in collective wisdom and thoughtfully apply effort and action through careful heartfelt adherence to club rules, camaraderie develops. Mounting interest in the characters and their adjustments to family life builds to a too-sweet conclusion, which could be redressed in a sequel, yet five genuine multifaceted characters together with their families make a large cast of characters. which Deriso handles adeptly. An interesting group that begs for a sequel. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-73334-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2007

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