Unquestionably readable, full of action and suspense.

SURVIVAL OP

THE FEAR IN THE WILDERNESS

An intensely readable yet alarmingly violent cross between TV shows Lost and Survivor.

In book one of this series, Marcus, a runaway, is kidnapped and taken to an island in the Bermuda Triangle where a government-sponsored experiment is supposedly under way to measure how bodies react to extreme pressures in a hostile environment. Wounded 13-year-old Lynn is also trapped in the frightening wilderness surrounded by electrified fences. The teens are told they will be hunted and killed, but they adjust amazingly fast, finding water and shelter and creating weapons. When Lynn is apparently killed, Marcus becomes obsessed with vengeance and uses great ingenuity to murder many mysterious agents. He does capture one, however, who is willing to cooperate, and the two are helped by an unseen yet terrifying monster that remains one of the island’s greatest unexplained mysteries. The strange island, hostiles, traps, dangerous boars and experimenting on humans are all reminiscent of Lost; the need for companionship, shelter, food and weapons remind one of Survivor. A few details detract from the storyline throughout, such as whether the captured agent would so quickly become an ally or that Marcus would know how to build grenades and bombs so easily. Abrupt shifts between first and third person are also quite jarring. Despite these pitfalls, readers will root for Marcus and his crew to prevail over the sinister Survival Op staff, and the story concludes with plenty of plot threads to explore in further editions.

Unquestionably readable, full of action and suspense.

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-595-42062-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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THE PUMPKIN BOOK

The Pumpkin Book (32 pp.; $16.95; Sept. 15; 0-8234-1465-5): From seed to vine and blossom to table, Gibbons traces the growth cycle of everyone’s favorite autumn symbol—the pumpkin. Meticulous drawings detail the transformation of tiny seeds to the colorful gourds that appear at roadside stands and stores in the fall. Directions for planting a pumpkin patch, carving a jack-o’-lantern, and drying the seeds give young gardeners the instructions they need to grow and enjoy their own golden globes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1465-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

BEHIND THE BLUE

A fan of magic and her reluctant companion embark on an adventure when the mysterious Blue Man charges them with a mission.

Little Katherine contemplates what exists behind the scrim of the sky, and she gets her answer after she meets a boy named Charlie, who literally runs into her upon fleeing a blue man and a talking salamander he encounters in the nearby forest. The man is non-threatening, and asks the two to help him recover some lost items, to which Katherine heartily agrees. He doesn’t provide much information, however, so once she and Charlie enter this enchanted universe, they must take it upon themselves to figure out what the Blue Man has lost and how to go about helping him find it. With the help of guides like snarky, enigmatic Gerald and good-natured Frank, the children travel through very deep puddles to different realms behind the clouds, learning about the Blue Man’s nemesis, Grey Lady, who may have snatched his magical dragon stones. Schilling’s well drawn, vibrant world elevates his story above the standard adventure quest. His lively, amusing dialogue complements a fantastical world where fish flit through the air like bees (and may accidentally transport you elsewhere), manta rays make shy cabbies, crushed flowers pop back to life and magic permeates everything. While adults will find the narrative captivating, this book is tailor-made for storytime read-alouds.

An artfully crafted tale with mesmerizing details and a subtle exploration of free will and good versus evil.

Pub Date: July 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-595-36189-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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