A substantive and enjoyable fantasy featuring colorful characters, a real-world setting, and the believable journey of a...

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THE PHANTOM OF NEW YORK

VOLUME II: THE SWORD AND THE CIRCUS

A teenager who refuses to believe a prophecy that he will be New York’s next superhero faces dark events and otherworldly messengers in this second volume of a middle-grade series.

It isn’t necessary to have read Janney’s (The Phantom of New York—Volume I, Peter and the Crown, 2017, etc.) first fantasy installment to enjoy this eventful sequel, but it will deepen readers’ experience to know just how 13-year-old Peter Constantine began his odyssey to supernatural crime fighting. Of Greek descent, the teen lives with his father, Manos, and mother, Jovanna, at The Crown, a luxury hotel in New York. The family fled there when a dangerous fugitive known as The Client threatened to murder Manos for reporting his criminal activities to the police. Manos serves as The Crown’s building superintendent; Jovanna labors in the hotel’s laundry; and Peter, who feels an odd affinity for the hotel, is being mentored by a magician, an etiquette maven, a boxing coach, and a circus blade-thrower. Among the teen’s peers are a spunky girl from India; a video gamer from Japan; and a kind, rich white girl. Hawkins, who is black, brilliant, and homeless, lives part-time with Peter’s family. Peter, who secretly thwarted an attack on the hotel by The Client and his Red Masque syndicate in the first book, still disbelieves the hotel ghost’s pronouncement that he has been chosen as the next Phantom, a legendary superhero. His reluctance to accept his fate may frustrate some readers, but within these supernatural trappings, Janney has deftly crafted the coming-of-age story of a young teen whose innate good character and experiences in the real and magical worlds are preparing him for the future. With humor, imagination, and fine-tuned suspense, the author mixes in bullies, a Phantom wannabe, a mouse-turned-faery, circus animals, a mysterious key, a sword with strange qualities, and a ghostly twist. When a circus troupe moves into the hotel, Peter and his friends act on the boy’s suspicions that The Client and the Red Masque are hiding within the company, attempting to find treasures rumored to bestow magical powers on the finders. The surprise conclusion hints at a third book to come.

A substantive and enjoyable fantasy featuring colorful characters, a real-world setting, and the believable journey of a young protagonist to a magical destiny.

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-981419-20-3

Page Count: 350

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE

In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

BEHIND THE BLUE

A fan of magic and her reluctant companion embark on an adventure when the mysterious Blue Man charges them with a mission.

Little Katherine contemplates what exists behind the scrim of the sky, and she gets her answer after she meets a boy named Charlie, who literally runs into her upon fleeing a blue man and a talking salamander he encounters in the nearby forest. The man is non-threatening, and asks the two to help him recover some lost items, to which Katherine heartily agrees. He doesn’t provide much information, however, so once she and Charlie enter this enchanted universe, they must take it upon themselves to figure out what the Blue Man has lost and how to go about helping him find it. With the help of guides like snarky, enigmatic Gerald and good-natured Frank, the children travel through very deep puddles to different realms behind the clouds, learning about the Blue Man’s nemesis, Grey Lady, who may have snatched his magical dragon stones. Schilling’s well drawn, vibrant world elevates his story above the standard adventure quest. His lively, amusing dialogue complements a fantastical world where fish flit through the air like bees (and may accidentally transport you elsewhere), manta rays make shy cabbies, crushed flowers pop back to life and magic permeates everything. While adults will find the narrative captivating, this book is tailor-made for storytime read-alouds.

An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

Pub Date: July 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-595-36189-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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