Intellectually curious preteens model heroism in this engaging fantasy tale.


Procopio’s (Chelzy Stone’s Mystical Quest in the Lost and Found Game, 2013) middle-grade sequel brings the trio of adventurers to a medieval Camelot under threat.

Sixth-grader Tory Herold has an uncle who collects antiques. Uncle Tony’s latest find is a game stored in a beautiful chest. The seller tells him that it “will only open for a young person or someone on a quest for something extraordinary.” Tory and her friends Chelzy and Matthew Stone (who are in the 5th and 7th grades, respectively) wait a few weeks until spring break before opening it, expecting another otherworldly adventure. The chest reveals three smaller boxes, each engraved with a representation of a different element—water, light, and earth—and they soon discover that lifting the respective lids causes those elements to pour forth. The trio consults Grandpa Stone, who has helped them in the past. In medieval Albion, meanwhile, the sorceress Hextilda wreaks havoc in Camelot as revenge for her parents’ murders by the king. The wizard Azahti plans to recover the three pieces of the magical artifact called The Treskelion to defeat Hextilda. He has help from Sophokles, an owl, and Bianor, a dragon, but he also envisions the arrival of three children from “another existence” who will be instrumental to his cause. In this installment, Procopio’s heroes are hardly any older but quite a bit wiser when it comes to dealing with magical objects and situations. Still, the kids finish their homework and chores and get practical advice from Grandpa Stone (“Never start smoking and you’ll avoid health issues later in life”). The suspense of when and how the crew will travel to Camelot is amplified by the presence of Tory’s eccentric Aunt Flossy. Procopio’s prose is a vocabulary builder, as when Chelzy uses the word “concomitant,” to Matthew’s surprise. Later, in the Forest of Desperate Souls, Azahti eloquently tells the children about peace, saying, “Many living people have it right before them but do not recognize it or cherish it.” A crisp finale—and the hint of summer vacation shenanigans—prepares readers for a potential future volume.

Intellectually curious preteens model heroism in this engaging fantasy tale.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9860607-1-7

Page Count: 260

Publisher: RoseLamp Publications

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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