THE BOGGART

In Cooper's classic The Dark is Rising cycle, Will Stanton, an ordinary boy, is also one of the powerful "Old Ones" engaged in the age-old struggle against evil. Now, in a long-awaited return, Cooper turns to a different representative of the "Old Magic": a homely mischief-maker. From time immemorial, the invisible Boggart has lived in a Scottish castle, enjoying the sport of teasing and mystifying each new human occupant before settling down to his own peculiar brand of an affectionate relationship. The latest heir is a Canadian theater director, who brings his children (Jessup and Emily) for a brief visit before the castle is sold. Between long naps in odd corners, the Boggart makes himself known with baffling pranks—inventive but never malicious; when he curls up to snooze in a desk, he's accidentally shipped to Toronto, where he makes some delightful discoveries (pizza, peanut butter) but also tangles with modern technology, which—though it can marvelously enhance his tricks (notably, when he invades the theater's computer-run lights) leads to some dangerously unpredictable results. Cleverly getting into Jessup's computer, he manages to deliver a time-honored message: he wants to go home. A comfortably old-fashioned story, told with Cooper's usual imagination and grace: the Boggart is entrancing—a magically witty mix of fey spirit, comfort-loving cat, old man set in his ways, and child taking gleeful delight in his own mischief—of which there is plenty, all splendidly comical. (Fiction. 9+)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0689869304

Page Count: 199

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1992

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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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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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