THE PHANTOM ISLES by Stephen Alter


Age Range: 10 - 14
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Middle-schoolers Courtney, Orion and Ming accidentally raise the long-dead spirits of Phantom Islanders entrapped by an early 20th-century scientist and carried away from their Indian Ocean home to Carville, Mass., where they’ve been hidden in books in the library’s basement stacks. From the opening midnight break-in through the book-burning demonstration to the final hurried release of the captives, Alter sustains the suspense of this engaging ghost story. Although firmly set in a modern-day world with computers, copiers and sterile nursing homes, this has the air of an old-fashioned adventure, in which determined children, with the help of a sympathetic librarian, right an ancient wrong. Side stories of some of the spirits introduce the reader to their lost tropical world, an idyllic place populated by shipwreck survivors from around the globe. The pressure of Orion and Ming’s determinedly positive sixth-grade teacher’s efforts to ban books with unhappy endings adds humor as well as tension, allowing the librarian to remind readers of the importance of freedom of choice. Fresh and familiar—an entertaining read. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 1-58234-738-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2007