Closer in tone to American Gods than to Coraline, but permeated with Bod’s innocence, this needs to be read by anyone who is...

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THE GRAVEYARD BOOK

Wistful, witty, wise—and creepy.

Gaiman’s riff on Kipling’s Mowgli stories never falters, from the truly spine-tingling opening, in which a toddler accidentally escapes his family’s murderer, to the melancholy, life-affirming ending. Bod (short for Nobody) finds solace and safety with the inhabitants of the local graveyard, who grant him some of the privileges and powers of the dead—he can Fade and Dreamwalk, for instance, but still needs to eat and breathe. Episodic chapters tell miniature gems of stories (one has been nominated for a Locus Award) tracing Bod’s growth from a spoiled boy who runs away with the ghouls to a young man for whom the metaphor of setting out into the world becomes achingly real. Childhood fears take solid shape in the nursery-rhyme–inspired villains, while heroism is its own, often bitter, reward.

Closer in tone to American Gods than to Coraline, but permeated with Bod’s innocence, this needs to be read by anyone who is or has ever been a child. (Fantasy. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-053092-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2008

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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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THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY

Gratuity Tucci (“Tip” for short) has a problem. Aliens have invaded Earth, stolen her mother, and now she and the rest of humanity are being shunted onto small reservations while the invaders (the Boov) take over the rest of the planet. In avoiding this plan, via her family car, Tip runs across J.Lo, a renegade Boov with problems of his own. Together, girl and alien attempt to locate Tip’s mother only to discover that an even greater alien threat is imminent. It’s up to the two heroes to defeat the invaders, Boov and otherwise, and save the day. The humor in this story is undeniably unique, containing a skewed worldview that children will certainly enjoy. Yet while the first half of the book is an entirely funny road trip of the Kerouac-meets-E.T. variety, the second half slows down considerably. Rex has such a nice grasp of small tender moments amidst a world gone haywire, it’s a pity the book wasn’t pared down significantly. Inspired but problematic. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7868-4900-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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