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A crescendo of savage horror, relieved only by a few grace notes of tender poignancy, make a gripping page-turner of this finale to the Deptford Mice trilogy. The spirit of Jupiter, the sorcerous cat, has returned as the Unbeast, more malevolent and powerful than ever. Having seized the magical Starglass, he plans to plunge the world into eternal wintry darkness. Meanwhile, Jupiter’s erstwhile lieutenant has gathered an army of rats in the sewers of London, whipping them into a ravenous frenzy against the Holeborn mice. Against these evil forces stand only the mice of Deptford: temperamental Audrey, her rotund brother Arthur, the albino runt Oswald, the stalwart midshipmouse Thomas Triton, and the savvy city mouse Piccadilly. Armed with the wisdom of the frail squirrel Starwife and the ancient mystical lore of the bat councils, they set out to do the impossible: defeat an enemy who has already conquered death. Jarvis (The Crystal Prison, 2001, etc.) pulls out all the stops here, setting scenes of gruesome ferocity in an eerily unfamiliar London, whose human inhabitants huddle offstage while clammy fogs and icy gales freeze the city in their iron grip. While some might find his animals excessively anthropomorphized, the extreme situation has brought a new depth to their hitherto flat personalities. The most unlikely heroes reveal unsuspected reserves, and more than one beloved character pays the ultimate sacrifice. After all the violence and grief, the ultimate resolution is surprisingly warm, gentle, and achingly bittersweet. A superlative conclusion to a top-notch series. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58717-192-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: SeaStar/North-South

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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Miranda’s book counts the monsters gathering at a birthday party, while a simple rhyming text keeps the tally and surveys the action: “Seven starved monsters are licking the dishes./Eight blow out candles and make birthday wishes.” The counting proceeds to ten, then by tens to fifty, then gradually returns to one, which makes the monster’s mother, a purple pin-headed octopus, very happy. The book is surprisingly effective due to Powell’s artwork; the color has texture and density, as if it were poured onto the page, but the real attention-getter is the singularity of every monster attendee. They are highly individual and, therefore, eminently countable. As the numbers start crawling upward, it is both fun and a challenge to try to recognize monsters who have appeared in previous pages, or to attempt to stay focused when counting the swirling or bunched creatures. The story has glints of humor, and in combination with the illustrations is a grand addition to the counting shelf. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-201835-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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