GREGOR AND THE PROPHECY OF BANE

From the Underland Chronicles series , Vol. 2

When giant cockroaches kidnap his baby sister Boots from Central Park, Gregor knows that he has no choice but to descend to the Underland to find her. Readers will eagerly remember what Gregor has tried to forget: that at the end of Gregor the Overlander (2003), the fey Nerissa had hinted at the Prophecy of Bane. Bane, it appears, is a giant white rat, one whose coming portends the end of the delicate balance of power in the Underland; Gregor is prophesied to be the end of Bane, but not if the rats get Boots first. Collins crafts another edge-of-the-seat quest; a race between Gregor and the rats reunites the boy with Queen Luxa and with Ares, his new bat-bond. Humor and terror alternate, as the third-person narration (heavily flavored by the voice of 11-year-old Gregor) details the bickering brought on by close quarters and then unflinchingly throws the questers into mortal danger. Gregor’s resolution of the prophecy will surprise and delight readers—who will be equally delighted to see that Nerissa has packed a new prophecy in Gregor’s luggage when he returns home. Yessss! (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-439-65075-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

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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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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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