SUMMERLAND

“Well, we got no choice, an’ that’s a fact. The Rade has showed up, years before we ever done expected them, and yer about ten years shy o’ half-cooked, but we got no choice. There ain’t no time ta go looking for another champion. I guess ya’ll hafta do.” Thus is 11-year-old Ethan Feld, the worst ballplayer in the history of the game, drafted by the Home Run King of three worlds to forestall the end of the world at Ragged Rock. Ragged Rock is not a place but a moment—the last out of the bottom of the ninth—and the Rade is the combined hordes of Coyote, the Changer, who is bent on poisoning the four great branches of the World Tree. After the death of his mother, however, Ethan hasn’t much faith in his ability to be anybody’s hero, but when his Zeppelin-designer father is kidnapped by Coyote to engineer Ragged Rock, he takes up a baseball-bat-sized chunk of the World Tree and joins the cause. Plaiting together elements from Scandinavian and Native American mythology, American legend, and world literature, Pulitzer-winner Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, 2000, etc.), writing for young people for the first time, constructs a uniquely American fantasy peopled by were-animals, sasquatches, giants, and ferishers—fairies who look like nothing so much as 18-inch-high storybook Indians—and fueled by a healthy reverence for the Great American Game. As catcher and slugger for Big Chief Cinquefoil’s Traveling Shadowtails All-Star Baseball Club, Ethan is joined by Clam Island teammates Jennifer T. Rideout and Thor Wignutt, and an assortment of otherworldly supporters. Together they barnstorm across the Summerlands until, at Diamond Green, they meet Coyote and his team of Hobbledehoys, for one last, great game. The sprawling, vigorous narrative pulls out all the stops, gleefully reveling in the wonders it produces at every turn, from the magically ever-sunny corner of drizzly Clam Island to the varied denizens of the Summerlands. This raucous, exhilarating, joyful, and, above all, fun offering displays an enormous respect for the tradition of great fantasies that come before it, from Irving, Baum, and Nesbit, to Lewis, Tolkien, and Pullman, while confidently taking its place beside them. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7868-0877-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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It’s slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school.

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 1

In a rousing first novel, already an award-winner in England, Harry is just a baby when his magical parents are done in by Voldemort, a wizard so dastardly other wizards are scared to mention his name.

So Harry is brought up by his mean Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia Dursley, and picked on by his horrid cousin Dudley. He knows nothing about his magical birthright until ten years later, when he learns he’s to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hogwarts is a lot like English boarding school, except that instead of classes in math and grammar, the curriculum features courses in Transfiguration, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Harry becomes the star player of Quidditch, a sort of mid-air ball game. With the help of his new friends Ron and Hermione, Harry solves a mystery involving a sorcerer’s stone that ultimately takes him to the evil Voldemort. This hugely enjoyable fantasy is filled with imaginative details, from oddly flavored jelly beans to dragons’ eggs hatched on the hearth.

It’s slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-590-35340-3

Page Count: 309

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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