THE GREAT GOOD THING

Enchantment rules: the power of story; the uses of dream and memory; and the eternal childhood question of where beloved characters live when their book is closed are just some of the skeins of this utterly winning book. Puckish humor, burnished imagination, and sheer delight in words, in telling, fill the tale of Sylvie, a princess who longs to have adventures before she gets married off. It has been a long time since anyone read the book where she, her family, and the rest of the characters dwell. Townley has it all worked out with energy and grace: characters rushing about to get in their proper positions when the book is opened; the sly humor of watching some grow into their personalities and others constricted by them. A young reader named Claire picks the book up because reading it aloud seems to ease her dying grandmother. In Claire’s dreams, Sylvie discovers other places besides her own story to explore, some beguiling, some terrifying. But as Claire grows up, she dreams less and less of her favorite book, especially after it is lost in a fire. Sylvie and the other characters must find other places to live among Claire’s forgotten memories, and they are led by a girl with Claire’s grandmother’s dark blue eyes. When Claire herself lies dying, her daughter who remembers the story, and writes it down so that Sylvie might live on. With inspiration from Lewis Carroll to The Truman Show and The Purple Rose of Cairo, Townley has created that most impossible thing: a book beloved from the first page. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-84324-0

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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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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Readers will be irresistibly drawn into Harry's world by GrandPre's comic illustrations and Rowling's expert combination of...

HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998) brings back the doughty young wizard-in-training to face suspicious adults, hostile classmates, fretful ghosts, rambunctious spells, giant spiders, and even an avatar of Lord Voldemort, the evil sorcerer who killed his parents, while saving the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from a deadly, mysterious menace.

Ignoring a most peculiar warning, Harry kicks off his second year at Hogwarts after a dreadful summer with his hateful guardians, the Dursleys, and is instantly cast into a whirlwind of magical pranks and misadventures, culminating in a visit to the hidden cavern where his friend Ron's little sister Ginny lies, barely alive, in a trap set by his worst enemy. Surrounded by a grand mix of wise and inept faculty, sneering or loyal peers—plus an array of supernatural creatures including Nearly Headless Nick and a huge, serpentine basilisk—Harry steadily rises to every challenge, and though he plays but one match of the gloriously chaotic field game Quidditch, he does get in plenty of magic and a bit of swordplay on his way to becoming a hero again.

Readers will be irresistibly drawn into Harry's world by GrandPre's comic illustrations and Rowling's expert combination of broad boarding school farce and high fantasy. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 2, 1999

ISBN: 0-439-06486-4

Page Count: 341

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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