From School Library Journal
Grade 4–6—When three New England sixth graders discover ghosts hidden inside books in their local public library, they enlist the help of the librarian and unravel the means by which the spirits were trapped. An evil scientist imprisoned them in the early 1900s on a fictional island in the Indian Ocean, and then brought the books to New England, where they were donated to the library upon his death. Several halftone illustrations appear in the section in which the ghosts are first introduced, giving the look of a face peering out from the text, which adds a creepy touch. The subplot involves the children's censorship-happy teacher who wants all unpleasant books removed from the library. While based on an interesting concept, the story is riddled with confusing touches. The ghosts speak English backwards, but are from an island where it is not spoken. One of the books involved contains a reference to nuclear weapons, but it would have been published in the 1930s at the latest. A laugh-out-loud-funny joke requires an understanding of Voltaire's Candide
. Flashbacks to the deaths of the spirits are included in the text and are occasionally brutal, though not graphic. The use of present tense to tell their backstories yields fairly confusing results. While there is an inclination to advocate for a book that has a strong anticensorship librarian as a main character, this book misses the mark.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Sixth-grade-classmates Courtney, Orion, and Ming break into the public library one night, find he Compleat Necromancer,
and recite an incantation that signals the beginning of a strange adventure. Soon they discover ghosts captured years before on the island of Prithvideep in the Indian Ocean and now magically confined as moving images within the pages of books. The plot thickens as the children's book-banning teacher threatens to shut down the public library for exposing kids to unsavory tomes such as "biographies of criminals and thugs" and "scientific theories that haven't been proven." The librarian soon becomes the trio's ally in researching the history of events on Prithvideep and trying to free the spirits trapped in the books. Though readers may find the telling of events on Prithvideep many years ago less involving than the contemporary story, the background does give this fantasy an unusual dimension. The text is occasionally superimposed on a ghostly visage, simulating what the characters saw when they discovered the enchanted spirits trapped in the library books. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved