In vital respects, very like The Curse of the Blue Figurine (p. J-112), last season's spooky debut of young Johnny Dixon and his eccentric old neighbor Professor Childermass; but a letdown only on that score. The new old mystery the Professor lays before Johnny concerns the missing will of H. Blagwell Glomus, cereal tycoon and demonology adept—who may have left three odd objects as a clue, or may have left the objects merely to annoy his relatives. Johnny hasn't time to puzzle it out before he finds his grandmother acting strange, the victim of a brain tumor, and his own worries mount: his mother is dead, his father is a pilot in Korea, and now? To distract him, the Professor arranges a week's stay in the White Mountains with the Boy Scouts; next to the camp, unsuspected, is the derelict Glomus estate; calling to tell the Professor, Johnny is eyed darkly by a young man and hotel-keeper Mrs. Woodley; and when he and Fergie, a fellow odd-fact collector and a welcome friend, sneak out to the estate at night, the young man is waiting for them—with a gun. Faced down, he tells them he's Chad Glomus, grandson of "good old H. Blagwell"; warns of a malevolent Guardian at loose; and, with "long, loud, hideous yells and shrieks," vanishes. A crazy joke? Or for real? Home again, Johnny learns that his father is missing in Korea—and panics: if his grandmother dies, his grandfather will die too, and he'll be all alone. But the $10,000 reward for finding the will would pay for the best brain surgeon; so, aware that he's not rational, he heads back alone to New Hampshire, and into the clutches of Mrs. Woodley, old man Glomus' sister and now the Guardian's keeper. . . where, in a fiery finale, the Professor and Fergie find him, and the will is destroyed. Then, tucking in the personal loose ends, Bellairs has Johnny get the reward anyhow—and has his father appear unheralded at the door. The usual taut narrative, intriguing puzzle, interesting types—but risky in that Johnny's psyche comes to seem part of the pattern.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1983

ISBN: 1617563285

Page Count: 126

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller


A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?