Still, opening with a thrilling quidditch match, and closing with another wizardly competition that is also exciting, for...

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 4

As the bells and whistles of the greatest prepublication hoopla in children’s book history fade, what’s left in the clearing smoke is—unsurprisingly, considering Rowling’s track record—another grand tale of magic and mystery, of wheels within wheels oiled in equal measure by terror and comedy, featuring an engaging young hero-in-training who’s not above the occasional snit, and clicking along so smoothly that it seems shorter than it is.

Good thing, too, with this page count. That’s not to say that the pace doesn’t lag occasionally—particularly near the end when not one but two bad guys halt the action for extended accounts of their misdeeds and motives—or that the story lacks troubling aspects. As Harry wends his way through a fourth year of pranks, schemes, intrigue, danger and triumph at Hogwarts, the racial and class prejudice of many wizards moves to the forefront, with hooded wizards gathering to terrorize an isolated Muggle family in one scene while authorities do little more than wring their hands. There’s also the later introduction of Hogwarts’ house elves as a clan of happy slaves speaking nonstandard English. These issues may be resolved in sequels, but in the meantime, they are likely to leave many readers, particularly American ones, uncomfortable

Still, opening with a thrilling quidditch match, and closing with another wizardly competition that is also exciting, for very different reasons, this sits at the center of Rowling’s projected seven volume saga and makes a sturdy, heartstopping (doorstopping) fulcrum for it. (Fiction. All ages)

Pub Date: July 8, 2000

ISBN: 978-0-439-13959-5

Page Count: 734

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2000

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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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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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