A charming and thought-provoking tale that walks the line between fantasy and reality with all the skill of...


An engaging debut about a family reunion that leads to a disappearance.

Charlotte and Beth weren’t born to privilege, but their parents worked hard to give them every advantage, which counts for a lot in England. That’s why Charlotte found it so hard to forgive her sister for having—as she saw it—thrown away her expensive education and careful upbringing to marry a worthless carpenter who took her away from the civilized world (i.e., London’s West End) and moved her to the hinterlands of Wales. It was so hurtful, in fact, that Charlotte could not bring herself to write, call, or communicate in any way with Beth after her marriage—even though Beth continued to write. After Beth’s dreadful husband died, however, Charlotte found it in herself to forgive, and she accepted Beth’s invitation to visit her in Wales. At first the reunion was a success: Charlotte never spoke of her late brother-in-law, and her six-year-old daughter Lily hit it off splendidly with Beth’s eleven-year-old triplets Amy, Jude, and Samantha. Amy, blessed with a gift for storytelling, delighted Lily with a long narrative about the “Mushroom Man,” a kindly hermit who invented mushrooms as miniature umbrellas for the fairies to keep them dry in the rain. Lily was so taken with the story that she insisted that she’d met the Mushroom Man and began to take long solitary rambles looking for him. Charlotte’s unease at her daughter’s wild imaginings turns to outright terror when Lily disappears one morning without a trace. The police are summoned to investigate what looks like a kidnapping, but the triplets wonder whether their stories about the Mushroom Man might have somehow come true—and they round up all the children of the neighborhood to take matters into their own hands.

A charming and thought-provoking tale that walks the line between fantasy and reality with all the skill of tightrope-artist. The British-born Powell, now an NYU grad student, has made a splendid start.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-14963-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2002

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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