Several years have passed since the events chronicled in A Wind in the Door. Meg Murry is now Mrs. Calvin O’Keefe, and the twins (Sandy and Dennys) are now in law school and medical school, respectively.
In two previous books, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, we observed the youthful adventures of an adorable young woman from Canada’s Prince Edward Island.
By one of those funny coincidences that frequently befall readers of YA fantasy series, I put my hands on this third book in The Children of the Lamp series at the same time as The Hour of the Cobra, the second book in an equally fun time-travel series.
This book won the 1990 Newbery Medal for its moving, and at times agonizingly suspenseful, account of the courage of a family in Nazi-occupied Denmark, 1943. Though the details of the story, and its main characters, are fictional, Lowry points out in her Afterword that it is also historically accurate including both frightening and fantastic bits which might seem too much to believe.
John and Philippa Gaunt are not just a couple of filthy-rich, twelve-year-old twins. They are also Djinn — beings who can live hundreds of years, who are made of a subtle kind of fire, and who have power to grant wishes and to effect the luck of the world. Like Harry Potter, they can do amazing things. Unlike Harry, each of them only needs to remember one magic word (Philippas focus word is particularly addictive: FABULONGOSHOOMARVELISHLYWONDERPIPICAL! Can you say that five times fast?)
About a year after the adventures in A Wrinkle in Time, Meg and Charles Wallace Murry get another chance to put their special gifts to use.
The sequel to Five Children and It picks up in the fall of the same year, when the children are beginning to miss having magical adventures.
Meg Murry is having trouble coping with her adolescence. She isn’t doing well in school (except in math). She is temperamental and hyper-sensitive. Her teeth have braces, her eyes have spectacles, and her hair just can’t be tamed; she has a hard time believing that she’ll ever take after her gorgeous, multiple-doctorate, experimental scientist mother. Teachers and other kids don’t know what to do with her. Meanwhile, her younger twin brothers are normal and popular. Her baby brother Charles Wallace is eerily gifted. And her father, last known to be working on a top-secret project for the government, hasn’t been heard from in years, and the word on the street is that he isn’t coming back.
We have already met the good doctor of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, the one who talks to animals, the better to treat their aches and pains and to learn about the natural world. In this second book of his adventures, Doctor Dolittle gets a young assistant: Tommy Stubbins, who narrates this installment.
In this third book in the series that also includes Sabriel and Lirael, a new Abhorsen-in-waiting has been revealed: Lirael, a Daughter of the Clayr and Remembrancer, who turns out to be half-sister to the Abhorsen Sabriel. This means that Lirael is next in line for the job of clearing up the undead riff-raff that increasingly plague the Old Kingdom, due to the conniving of Necromancers and evil spirits from beyond the grave.