THE ANCIENT ONE

A long but well-peopled fantasy with a strong environmental message. When Kate, 13, tries to help stop a group of unemployed Oregon loggers from cutting a unique stand of redwoods, she's cast back five centuries and propelled into the struggle against Gashra, a megalomaniac volcano creature with a very real ``scorched earth policy.'' The strongest feature of this novel is not the wandering, predictable plot but the colorful cast, especially the nonhumans- -boulder-like Stonehags, many-eyed underwater Guardians, lizard-folk, owl-folk, and (best of all) the monstrous Gashra, a delicious combination of tyrannosaur, octopus, and two-year-old- -who add a strong dash of humor as well as occasional prophecies and rescues. In the end, Kate recovers a stolen power crystal, sends Gashra back into the earth for a few more centuries (take heed), and returns to her own time to witness one last desperate logger felling the oldest redwood just before a protective injunction takes effect. Barron shows some understanding of the loggers' plight, but pushes concepts like the interconnectedness of nature, our arrogance toward the environment, and the necessity of preservation (both directly and metaphorically). Still, much better wrought than the author's tedious Heartlight (1990). (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-399-21899-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992

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Some might guess at the baffling, heart-pounding conclusion, but when all the sidewalk characters from Miranda’s Manhattan...

WHEN YOU REACH ME

When Miranda’s best friend Sal gets punched by a strange kid, he abruptly stops speaking to her; then oddly prescient letters start arriving.

They ask for her help, saying, “I'm coming to save your friend's life, and my own.” Readers will immediately connect with Miranda’s fluid first-person narration, a mix of Manhattan street smarts and pre-teen innocence. She addresses the letter writer and recounts the weird events of her sixth-grade year, hoping to make sense of the crumpled notes. Miranda’s crystalline picture of her urban landscape will resonate with city teens and intrigue suburban kids. As the letters keep coming, Miranda clings to her favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, and discusses time travel with Marcus, the nice, nerdy boy who punched Sal. Keen readers will notice Stead toying with time from the start, as Miranda writes in the present about past events that will determine her future.

Some might guess at the baffling, heart-pounding conclusion, but when all the sidewalk characters from Miranda’s Manhattan world converge amid mind-blowing revelations and cunning details, teen readers will circle back to the beginning and say, “Wow...cool.” (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: July 14, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-385-73742-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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