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The Xanadu Adventure (Vesper Holly) Paperback – February 15, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-7 - It is 1876, and Professor Brinton Garrett reluctantly agrees to accompany his ward, the irrepressible Vesper Holly; his wife Mary; and Vesper's friend Tobias ("The Weed") on a research trip to the site of the ancient city of Troy. En route, they are captured in Asia Minor by none other than Vesper's archenemy, Dr. Helvitius. After much derring-do and many improbable plot twists, the intrepid travelers manage to save both themselves and the world, and Vesper and The Weed even get married along the way. The action is almost nonstop, broken only by a fair amount of pontificating (both the professor and Helvitius are long-winded types), and readers won't get much of a sense of the exotic locale. Although Vesper is her usual plucky and quick-witted self, the character who really shines is our dear narrator, the long-suffering but lovable professor. His love for his family adds dimension to the wild action and makes the final plot twist all the sweeter. Buy where the series is popular. - Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 5-8. In search of a Trojan Rosetta stone, Vesper Holly is off to Asia Minor, along with her guardians, Mary and Professor Brinton Garrett; boyfriend Tobias "the Weed" Pasavant; and twins Smiler and Slider. Early in their travels, they sense "some kind of jiggery-pokery afoot." When they finally arrive at Xanadu, an edifice that "could have been the dream of a deranged architect," they find themselves prisoners of the archvillain Dr. Desmond Helvitius. Megalomaniac Helvitius sees oil as the future source of wealth and power and has designed a powerful petroleum-based weapon to carry out his dreadful schemes. Amid the thrills and chills, Vesper and the Weed marry. With a masterful mix of vivid description; robust, playful language; sly wit; and laugh-out-loud comedy, Alexander packs more mirth and adventure into his pages than some manage to do in novels triple the size. The surprising plot twists and suspenseful chapter endings make this an ideal read-aloud. A damsel who can handle any distress, Vesper is as plucky as ever in this splendid addition to a solid series. Linda Perkins
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: Vesper Holly
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (February 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142407860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142407868
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,376,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Few writers have inspired as much affection and interest among readers young and old as Lloyd Alexander. At one point, however, it seemed unlikely that he would ever be a writer at all. His parents could not afford to send him to college. And so when a Philadelphia bank had an opening for a messenger boy, he went to work there. Finally, having saved some money, he quit and went to a local college. Dissatisfied with not having learned enough to be a writer he left at the end of one term. Adventure, he decided was the best way. The United States had already entered World War II. Convinced that here was a chance for real deeds of derring-do, he joined the army -- and was promptly shipped to Texas where he became, in disheartening succession an artilleryman, a cymbal player in the band, an organist in the post chapel, and a first-aid man. At last, he was assigned to a military intelligence center in Maryland. There he trained as a member of a combat team to be parachuted into France to work with the Resistance. "This, to my intense relief, did not happen," says Alexander. Instead, Alexander and his group sailed to Wales to finish their training. This ancient, rough-hewn country, with its castles, mountains, and its own beautiful language made a tremendous impression on him. But not until years later did he realize he had been given a glimpse of another enchanted kingdom. Alexander was sent to Alsace-Lorraine, the Rhineland, and southern Germany. When the war ended, he was assigned to a counterintelligence unit in Paris. Later he was discharged to attend the University of Paris. While a student he met a beautiful Parisian girl, Janine, and they soon married. Life abroad was fascinating, but eventually Alexander longed for home. The young couple went back to Drexel Hill, near Philadelphia, where Alexander wrote novel after novel which publishers unhesitatingly turned down. To earn his living, he worked as a cartoonist, advertising writer, layout artist, and associate editor for a small magazine. It took seven years of constant rejection before his first novel was at last published. During the next ten years, he wrote for adults. And then he began writing for young people.Doing historical research for Time Cat he discovered material on Welsh mythology. The result was The Book of Three and the other chronicles of Prydain, the imaginary kingdom being something like the enchanted land of Wales. In The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen Alexander explored yet another fantastic world. Evoking an atmosphere of ancient China, this unique multi-layered novel was critically acclaimed as one of his finest works. Trina Schart Hyman illustrated The Fortune-tellers as a Cameroonian folktale sparkling with vibrant images, keen insight and delicious wit. Most of the books have been written in the form of fantasy. But fantasy, Alexander believes, is merely one of many ways to express attitudes and feelings about real people, real human relationships and problems

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Lloyd Alexander created a sort of female Indiana Jones in Vesper Holly, a cool, cultured adventure gal. Now in "The Xanadu Adventure," Alexander winds up the series with a final tense adventure, and a surprising -- and deeply satisfying -- finale. If only most series went out so gracefully.

Vesper Holly loves archaeology and adventure. So when she is told that archeologist Herr Schliemann has found the ruins of ancient Troy, she's determined to go investigate further. So she and her friends Brinnie, his wife Mary, and the knowledgeable oddball The Weed (not his real name) set out to Hissarlik. But things rapidly go awry.

A sinister boat captain dumps them off in the wrong place, and a sputtering archaeologist -- who claims he, not Schliemann, has found Troy -- turns out to be working for the malevolent Dr. Helviticus. And this time, the doctor has far-reaching plans not only to take control of the world's oil, but to rule the world itself from his own luxurious Xanadu...

In a sense, "The Xanadu" adventure is Alexander at his best. The story moves fast, the settings are exotic yet familiar, and there's a good blend of humor and action -- one of the best scenes is when an opulent palace goes up in flames, courtesy of Helviticus's superweapon. Alexander also indulges a more scholarly side -- he focuses on Schliemann and the discovery of Troy to kick off the adventure. Later on, Helviticus quotes extensively from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's legendary "Kubla Khan," which Helviticus's own Xanadu is based on.

But Alexander didn't just intend for this to be another Vesper Holly adventure. Sadly, it's the last one. So he wraps up a few personal threads for Holly, both involving Helviticus and concerning a certain young man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kemie Nix on September 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In 1876, the beautiful, courageous Vesper Holly of Philadelphia

finagles her guardians,Mary and Brinton Garrett, into accompanying her and her persistent friend and admirer, Tobias Wistar Passavant (nicknamed "The Weed,")to Troy. Brinnie rightly protests that no one knows the location of Troy. Vesper, never one to be deterred by such a minor detail, explains that Troy is now known to be in Asia Minor near the Dardanelles Straits. Tobias has a theory that Greece is not the real cradle of Mediterranean civilization but that Troy is. Brinnie, who has accompanied Vesper on her other many adventures, is not eager to go on one instigated by The Weed. He nevertheless soon finds himself bundled onto a ship with Mary and the two young people sailing toward a mythical city - never suspecting that the unmourned, dead archvillain, Dr. Helvetius, is not. He has not only survived but he controls their movements from the time they step aboard. Dr. Helvetious has two passions - world domination and Vesper Holly. Through a corrupted scholar and archeologist, he guides Vesper and company to his latest dwelling, Xanadu, built to mimic the Coleridge poem. World domination he has in his sights through his monopoly of a new product called "oil," and Vesper is in his clutches.

While Vesper doesn't have an understated bone in her body and flings herself into her final adventure with wit and verve, her author, who obviously loves this character and uses Brinnie as his alterego, is a master of understated humor and irony. Shot through with the author's trademark humor and nonstop action,this final adventure ends on a surprising and touching note. It contains hidden poignancy when this alterego goes where

his author cannot go.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Nesbitt on May 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Xanadu Adventure, published a full 15 years after the somewhat open-ended "Philadalphia Adventure," attempts to put a definitive end to the adventures of Vesper Holly. In retrospect, the plot is solid traditional Holly fare. The execution, however, is severely lacking.

Unfortunately, simply too much time has passed between the writing of the last book and this one. At one point in Xanadu, the characters remark how an author can lose his inspiration. The same seems to have happened with Mr. Alexander in this book. More specifically, he seems to have lost a grasp of the characters and what made the series tick in the first place. If his name wasn't on it, I'd swear it was written by a different author.

As I said, the plot is solid, and there are times when the dialogue is pure Vesper Holly classic. Unfortunately, there are some serious problems with the characters overall that are just impossible to overlook. Often Alexander has them saying lines that are basically making them caricatures of themselves. Vesper, for example, repeatedly refers to Brinnie as her "dear old tiger," which is a reference to a few lines in the first book of the series, but instead of invoking a clever tie-in, just comes across as hoakey and false.

The voice of the novels, "Brinnie," is the biggest disappointment. His character comes across as ignorant and silly at times instead of the steadfast, loyal companion to Vesper he has been in the past. For example, at one ridiculous moment, he threatens to cut someone's mustache down to its roots with a butter knife. Lines like this would never had existed in the original series.

Also lacking are the clever observations by Brinnie that made the original books so witty.
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