A blend of magic, history and mystery for patient readers who want to catch the crook but don’t necessarily need a good...

STEALING MAGIC

From the Sixty-Eight Rooms series , Vol. 2

Mystery abounds once again in the miniature Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Though their first adventure is over (The Sixty-Eight Rooms, 2010), Ruthie and Jack still possess the magical key that can shrink them down to fit into the tiny rooms at the museum. They know they should return it, but it’s difficult to walk away from that kind of power. Suddenly, objects start disappearing from the rooms. There is also a real-life art thief striking the city. Could the two be connected? Having established the magical premise in the first volume, this story jumps right into the action—but one would be hard pressed to say the narrative is action-packed. In this light read that tumbles along pleasantly enough, the pair also visit the World’s Fair in 1937 Paris, meeting a girl who may not escape the horrors of World War II, as well as the antebellum South, where they meet a young enslaved girl. These junkets provide a hint of tension but are quickly, and neatly, resolved, leaving readers poised for the next comfortable outing.

A blend of magic, history and mystery for patient readers who want to catch the crook but don’t necessarily need a good chase. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86819-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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A fun little adventure brimming with Disney intellectual-property synergy.

THE MOUSE WATCH

From the Mouse Watch series , Vol. 1

A young mouse earns her place among a secret society of world-savers.

Bernadette is a small rodent with big ambitions: joining the Mouse Watch, an elite team of mice that protect the world from evil while keeping themselves secret from humans. Bernie has long dreamed of joining her idol, Gadget Hackwrench (the female lead of Disney’s popular cartoon Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers), and going on gizmo-filled, adrenaline-fueled adventures. As a new recruit of the Watch, Bernie befriends Jarvis, a sensitive rat with puzzle-solving skills to spare. The two rodents flit from set piece to set piece, uncovering a dastardly plot concocted by the devilish Dr. Thornpaw that could turn the world upside down. Readers familiar with Rescue Rangers will find similar rhythms here: a precise blend of jokes, action, and plucky young heroes ambitious to prove themselves. The novel is smartly paced, keeping readers pushing forward but with just enough assurance that everything will turn out OK in the end. It’s a comfort read, one that tees up a sequel in its final pages and points back just enough to Rescue Rangers that young readers interested in exploring more of this world won’t be disappointed (provided their families have subscribed to Disney +).

A fun little adventure brimming with Disney intellectual-property synergy. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-05218-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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