WALKING WITH THE DEAD

A lightning strike and a reanimated corpse make for an unusually lively Halloween in this hilariously headlong caper. When the ancient Greek mummy in his father’s basement museum of oddities gets up and begs for help, Alex and his more-loyal-than-bright sidekick Freddie not only find themselves tackling a brutal local bully, but also taking unexpected trips. First, they go to the Underworld for encounters with Charon, Hades and various monsters; then to Greece, on a mission to change the past by rescuing an infant prince. Stirring a few Dantean details and themes into her mythological tour, Falcone equips Alex with both a working cell phone, so that he can call home for background information, and an active conscience that may sometimes get him into pickles, but also keeps him in dogged pursuit of the Right Thing To Do. With plenty of misadventures along the way, Alex and Freddie surmount numerous challenges to their courage and cleverness, ultimately sending the restless shade on its way to the Elysian Fields, and returning to their own time—and a conveniently chastened bully—as heroes. A delight for Time Warp Trio fans. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-55337-708-7

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2005

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A DIRTY DEED

Stenhouse continues his story begun in Across the Steel River (not reviewed) with another mystery laced with tones of racial bias and starring the same two boys, Will, who’s white, and Arthur, a Blackfoot Indian. The title holds double meaning: “deed,” as in an action, in this case one against decency, justice, and the Indian people of a small Canadian town on Alberta’s prairies. The other meaning, a title to land ownership, here refers to that deeded to an Indian during WWI by the most powerful, cruel, and unjust white man in town, “old man Howe.” Now, during the Korean War in 1952, Howe will stop at nothing to retrieve the document that has passed to other generations of the original deed-holder’s family. Told in the first person, the adventure-mystery speeds along as the town, its inhabitants, its setting, and history are revealed. Howe controls the Mounties, the town’s business, and a gang of thugs who do his bidding, often cruel and physically destructive to those who oppose him. The too-large cast weaves in and out of Will’s narrative and relationships become hazy. Throughout, Will and Arthur meet with near-escapes, but there are so many cliffhangers that it stretches reader credulity. The latter is especially so, given the uncertain duration of the endless action, which may cover only a few days and nights. A good many unexplained incidents also occur and may leave a reader unclear about them as real experiences or as mere figments of Will’s dreams. Despite a very active plot that portrays the degradation of Canada’s first People, Stenhouse tries to do too much and, as a result, fails. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-55337-360-X

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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SKULLDUGGERY

PLB 0-7868-2439-5 From Karr (Man of the Family, p. 1312, etc.), a historical novel that is remarkably cheerful, considering that among its key elements are grave-robbing and a hideous criminal on the prowl. In New York City in 1840, Matthew loses his whole family to cholera. Trying to keep body and soul together, he answers an advertisement for an assistant to a remarkable fellow, Dr. Asa B. Cornwall, phrenologist. Dr. ABC, as he is known, studies the cranial features of people, and deduces by the lobes and bumps on their heads their personalities and characteristics; he’s writing his magnum opus to prove his theories. Matthew takes to the larger-than-life doctor; they travel to Philadelphia, London, Paris, and the south of France, attempting’surreptitiously—to dig up famous skulls for the doctor’s research. All the while, in the smoothly suspenseful plotting, a vicious and mysterious stranger with a scar follows them, putting Matthew in danger and haunting his nightmares. The thrilling denouement takes place on St. Helena and involves the body of Napoleon himself; this novel is rich in period color and good old-fashioned derring-do. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7868-0506-4

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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