Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Review: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co, #1)The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Is there something strange around your neighborhood? Or a ghostly figure laying in your bed? Who you gonna call? Lockwood & Co. that’s who. London is in the midst of an epidemic - an epidemic of ghosts. England is now full of ghosts, specters and haunts of every sort and type (called Visitors.) To deal with the epidemic, psychic agencies that hunted ghost and eliminated them have sprouted up everywhere. Lockwood & Co. located at 35 Portland Row, London is such an agency: Anthony Lockwood, Lucy Carlyle, and George Cubbins. Each has their own special ability which allows them to detect and dispel ghosts. When Lockwood & Co. are asked to rid the most haunted private home in England of its many and deadly ghost, they cannot refuse. But this just might be the last Visitor Lockwood & Co. ever meet.
Jonathan Stroud has delighted again with The Screaming Staircase. I love a good ghost story. The Screaming Staircase is a good ghost story. While Stroud keeps the story mild enough I would have no problem recommending this book to children under the age of 13, the strong and likable character of Lucy and the mysterious Lockwood make up for any lack of gore and scare hard-edged gothic fans might miss. The England of Lockwood & Co., one overrun with ghosts, keeps the reader's interest. While we don't find out exactly what caused the Problem (maybe later in the series?), the many and varied manifestations of the Vistors and the ways they are dealt with make up for us lacking this knowledge.
I would recommend this book to adults and children 10+.

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Book Review: Ten Birds Meet a Monster by Cybele Young

Ten Birds Meet a MonsterTen Birds Meet a Monster by Cybèle Young
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ten birds meet a scary monster in their wanderings. Can they create their own creature scary enough to chase the monster away?
Cybele Young uses pen and ink drawings to tell the delightful tale of ten little birds who are making their way in the world when they come across a "scary monster." Using discard pieces of clothing, the birds come up with their own monsters to try to get rid of the one standing in their path. Young's use of such names as Vicious Polka-dactyl and Gnashing Grapplesaurus brings to mind Roald Dahl's works. Adults will be able to surmise the scary monster is just a shadow but this won't stop children from enjoying the build-up of the birds' creatures until the end.
Recommended for ages 4 - 6.

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