A sensational, exhilarating adventure that will make new readers want to read the series’ first.

KEYS TO ATLANTIS

THE ODYSSEY OF JON SINCLAIR, VOLUME 2

Time traveler Jon Sinclair returns to the 17th century to find the lost city of Atlantis in the second installment of Copus’ (BlackHeart’s Legacy, 2012) middle-grade adventure series.

It’s been three years since 15-year-old Jon fought with pirates in 1692, and now he’s back in the present. He reads a letter from his friend, Capt. BlackHeart, which hints that the captain is able to take him to Atlantis. Jon, his “Pappy” Alistair, his godfather, Nikos, and an English BlackHeart descendant named Colin all hop aboard the space-time-bending ship Carousel and journey to 1699 Crete. There, they reconnect with the captain, who tells them that he may have the key to the legendary lost city. But that key, a black opal stone, is part of a set—and the group will need to find at least one more opal before they can make the Atlantean journey. BlackHeart, however, then encounters an old pal whom he thought was dead. The man also knows far too much about his expedition, which can only mean that there’s a traitor among the captain’s group. This is a sequel that does everything right. For starters, it features several returning characters, such as former navigator Spider and quartermaster Mr. Token, and recognizable predicaments, such as a harrowing battle at sea. But Copus truly expands the Sinclairs’ world by opening up subplots that the preceding novel merely teased. For example, there’s much more back story this time concerning Jon’s long-deceased parents, particularly his father, Weston, who worked for the government’s Office of External Affairs. Similarly, further details about the Carousel suggest its possible origin: the Kimmerii, men from the future who need the ship to return to their own time, a few centuries hence. Unfortunately, Grammy, aka Kathryn, a featured player in the last book, has a much smaller role, but new character Haley, Colin’s little sis, almost fills that void. She’s a brilliant hacker who’s close to Jon’s age, and her addition adds romantic possibilities to the story. Copus has great fun with timeline-divided culture; BlackHeart’s hilarious fascination with a Post-it Note, for example, is a standout moment. There are a few other tasty morsels as well, including a contemporary car chase; a vicious, human-sized falcon; and an ending that leaves at least two characters’ fates in question.

A sensational, exhilarating adventure that will make new readers want to read the series’ first.

Pub Date: March 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1508419204

Page Count: 386

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2015

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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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HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE

Sophie is caught between a powerful witch and wizard who are terrorizing the magical land of Ingary. Living a humdrum life as a hatter till the malicious Witch of the Waste casts a spell turning her into an old woman, Sophie seeks refuge as cleaning woman to Wizard Howl (although he's rumored to eat the hearts of young girls) in his castle, which moves at will about the countryside. Actually, Howl is a brash young man whose only vice is womanizing. He is a gifted wizard but the despair of his inept apprentice and of Calcifer, a humorously petulant fire demon, because of such human faults as messiness and spending too long in the bath. As in her memorable Archer's Goon, Jones has a plethora of characters who are seldom what they seem and an intricate plot which may dazzle with its complexity or delight by the hilarious common-sense consequences of its preposterous premises. Sophie is a dauntless heroine; when she regains her youth and wins Howl, the odds are this is only the beginning of a tempestuous romance. Great fun.

Pub Date: April 14, 1986

ISBN: 0061478784

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1986

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