Book Review: Spellbound by Jacqueline West


Spellbound by Jacqueline West

Released July 11, 2011.

This second book in The Books of Elsewhere series is just as magical as the first.  Olive is still searching for a way to save Morton, the boy trapped inside a painting.  Now that the spectacles are broken, Olive must rely on the permission of one of the three cats to enter the paintings.  But nothing she tries is working.  So when her new neighbor, Rutherford, mentions that there may be a spellbook left by the McMartins, Olive immediately begins searching.  When she finds it though, she may not be ready for what it brings with it.  Plenty of adventure, magic and surprises await the reader.

West writes with an ease, a comfort that makes the book read quickly.  At the same time, she does use imagery very well, especially when describing characters.  Olive continues to be a great protagonist.  She is far from perfect, allowing her pride to get her into further scrapes in this book.  I am a fan of a flawed protagonist and Olive manages to be human and relatable throughout the novel.

As Olive spends more time outside the house, the neighborhood begins to come to life in this book much more completely than in the previous novel.  Olive’s parents are also more involved in this second book, though they do continue to leave Olive alone often, much to the delight of the storyline.

This is a charmer of a series filled with witches, magic, cats, and danger.  Fans of the first novel in the series will be clamoring for this second one.  A perfect summer read for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Dial Books.

Book Review: The Abandoned Lighthouse by Albert Lamb


The Abandoned Lighthouse by Albert Lamb, illustrated by David McPhail

A bear finds a rowboat near his favorite waterfall and promptly falls asleep in it.  The rowboat carries him through the sea and to a rocky shore with a lighthouse.  Then the rowboat drifted away.  It appeared on the beach near a young boy and his dog.  When his ball got stuck in the boat, the boy climbed in.  He and his dog were carried to the same lighthouse.  There, the boy and the bear met, spent time together, and slept.  But the little dog was awoken in the night by a storm and they all spotted a very large ship about the crash on the rocks.  They worked together to light the lamp and warn the ship to safety.  In the end, the rowboat carried the bear and the boy back to their own shores and the ship safely into its port.

This appealing book tells a simple story in a straight-forward way, perfect for young readers.  It is formatted as a reader rather than a picture book, though it would be successful in either format.  The story has enough mystery to keep the pages turning and then enough action to finish up on a high note.  It is a rather mystical book, filled with possibilities, but can still be read as a simple story as well.

McPhail’s art is lovely.  He plays with jewel tones in the sea, light and dark in the storm.  His art is easy to understand, making it very appropriate for the title.  Yet in his art, there is also the potential to see more too. 

A very nice early reader for library collections, this book is gentle and mysterious.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.  Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.