Chapter 1 of Pi in the Sky opens with one of the funniest and at the same time the most profound observations from the greatest mind ever to tackle life, the universe and everything in it — Carl Sagan.
Poor Barney Willow. He's been having a tough couple of years. His mom and dad are divorced, his father has disappeared under mysterious circumstances, he's the school bully's favorite target and the principal of his school is EVIL and out to get him! Now on his twelfth birthday, he has to walk his dog in the rain. That's the straw that breaks the camel's back. He sees a cat on his way home, and looking into the cat's mysterious eyes, Barney makes a wish. He wishes he could be a cat, to have no worries and just sleep and eat all day.
I am quite literally not sure what to say about this book. (I've been sitting here with a blank screen for a couple of minutes now.) When I first picked up Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and started reading I quickly made the comparison with Roald Dahl's classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the wonderfully done Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie (the 1971 classic with Gene Wilder - not that fiasco with Depp*).
The Lightning Catcher is great fun. It begins with showers of amphibians, proceeds quickly to explosions and mysterious strangers arriving in the night, and then jumps across the Atlantic to a hidden island filled with quirky characters and goofy pseudo-science and a school for "special" kids. I started giggling at the beginning and really never stopped. It's a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. Not too heavy on either ponderous message or illogical magic. Just the right amount of history and character building for the younger fantasy set.
Lori has a secret. She hasn't even told her best friend. Lori can see ghosts. Not often, and nothing much has happened beyond having brief, terrifying visions — until her parents decide to buy a bed and breakfast in Gettysburg, PA and they move there right before the annual anniversary of the Civil War battle that left so many dead.
Nick, Angelo, and Carter call themselves the Three Monsterteers because they love monsters so much. Every year, they blow the other kids out of the water with their original, super scary costumes. This year, though, Nick has to go to his great-aunt's funeral in Louisiana, and that means skipping Halloween with his friends. Luckily for him, he discovers that his great-aunt was a voodoo queen; her basement is full of creepy potions and powders.
Edgar and Allan Poe look a lot like their great-great-great-great-granduncle, Edgar Allan Poe. While the boys create trouble for themselves, their uncle tries to protect them through odd posters, fortune cookies, and license plates. Unfortunately, the messages are often filled with troublesome typos, a by-product of their transit from writer's purgatory to the living world. Although the boys have a complete understanding of quantum mechanics and a penchant for learning dead languages, they can't seem to decode their uncle's twisted words.
This is a story of sisters. Yes, there are jungle beasts and witches; there is a volcano and its attendant goddess; there is young love and danger; and there is a magical species of bird toppling into extinction — ironically because of ecotourism. But this is really a story of sisters, of Roo and Mad.
You probably shouldn't want to read this book. It's the pointless tale of a shiftless young author asking questions that shouldn't be asked and getting answers that aren't. Set in a dying town that ought to be under water and populated by characters who should really have better things to do, Who Could That Be at This Hour begins with a cup of drugged tea in a dingy tearoom (and stationery shop) and ends thirteen chapters later with a 12th birthday celebration feast of dusty peanuts.
This is Michelle Paver's second foray into ancient history. Her first series — The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness — dealt with Neolithic society. In that series she proved a master at wringing stories from scraps. We have nothing from that time but shards and stones. But she was able to draw the world of our ancestors in fine detail — and tell a darn good tale in the process.