Book Review: Time at the Top by Edward Ormondroyd


One Wednesday afternoon in March (1960 or so), a girl named Susan Shaw vanished from the Manhattan apartment building where she lived with her widowed father. After several days’ frantic search, during which no trace of her seemed likely to turn up, she reappeared with a bizarre story about a gift of “three” from a gypsy woman on the street, an elevator ride back in time to 1881, and an adventure with two children who ... Read More »

Book Review: Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton


This was originally two books entitled, The Magic Bed Knob and Bonfires and Broomsticks. The first book is about the three Wilson children, Carey (about 10) and Charles (about 9) and their 6-year-old baby brother Paul, who looks like an angel but is really a mischievous little devil. The three of them are being raised, apparently, by a single mother who works full-time, and during their summer holidays she doesn’t have time to look after them at home, ... Read More »

Book Review: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg


This 1968 Newbery Medal winner has been made into several movies, and at least one of them (the one featuring Ingrid Bergman in the title role) was pretty well-known in my generation. I think so, anyway. It wasn’t until just lately that I read the book, which tells an intriguing, charming, and somewhat sad story. Claudia and Jamie have run away from home. Unlike many runaways, they didn’t attempt their escape until they had a good idea ... Read More »

Book Review: The Hound of Rowan by Henry H. Neff


A MuggleNet reader named Tracy recently asked me to point her toward the series of books most nearly just-like-Harry-Potter. At the time I could think of a baker’s dozen of series, including Diane Duane’s Young Wizards, Emily Drake’s Magickers, Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci books, and so on. If I had read this book by then, I would have put it near the top of the list. The Book Trolley’s main idea is “If You Like Harry Potter, You May ... Read More »

Book Review: David and the Phoenix by Edward Ormondroyd


Thanks to a reader named Pam, I found out about this book that first came out in 1957, and that was out of print until the Purple House Press issued a new edition in 2005. Let me quote what Pam wrote to me about this book… I read it a hundred years ago when I was in the third grade (actually 1958) and loved it. It was out of print for years and was reissued ... Read More »

Book Review: The Victory Garden by Lee Kochenderfer


For Teresa Marks and her father, their tomato-growing competition against Mr. Burt next door is very important. For one thing, growing garden vegetables is part of the war effort in a small Kansas town in 1943. In case you missed your history class, that’s during World War II, when Teresa’s brother Jeff and many other young Americans went to Europe or the Pacific to fight against Germany and Japan. Which brings up another, even bigger ... Read More »

Book Review: The Pink Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (Editor)


A single man living in a small town has to be careful not to let too many people see him reading something called The Pink Fairy Book. He mustn’t take it to the laundromat, or read it in the waiting room while his car is having in oil change, or pass time with it while his supper is cooking at the downtown diner (where, by the way, they actually serve brain sandwiches). If I have to explain ... Read More »

Book Review: Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles


The post-World War II follow-up to A Separate Peace is another tragedy that will leave you nursing an aching heart and facing the evil that can live in the hearts even of the most promising youths. Whether it can be excused by the good mixed with it, is a question that will keep you up at night after you have read this tale. Pete Hallam is an athletic war hero, fresh returned to his old New Hampshire ... Read More »

Book Review: Lady Friday by Garth Nix


The fifth book in the “Keys to the Kingdom” series brings Arthur Penhaligon one step closer to claiming the seven keys to the House, and the seven parts of the Will of the Architect – which is to say, this fictional universe’s creator. But each time Arthur uses the power of the keys, he also comes closer to becoming a full-fledged Denizen of the House. Once he completes that transformation, he will be unable to ... Read More »

Book Review: A Separate Peace by John Knowles


This is a thin, quickly-read book that has one obvious appeal to Harry Potter fans: it is set in a boarding school. To be exact, a New England boys’ prep school, where the sons of the rich and powerful have gone for generations to prepare for college. Only these sons are preparing to go to war, as the novel is set during World War II. A not-so-obvious reason this should resonate with Harry’s fans, is that it ... Read More »