- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (April 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060287659
- ISBN-13: 978-0060287658
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,987,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Stones Are Hatching Hardcover – April 25, 2000
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"Phelim had always thought there must be more to magic than rabbits or handkerchiefs--that if it existed at all, it would be too large to palm or to hide up your sleeve." In fact, this young lad was pretty sure ghosts existed... or at least ghostly cats. His older sister and guardian, Prudence, had no tolerance for his irrational musings, but she hadn't seen the milk saucer licked dry day after day.
One morning in England in 1919, 11-year-old Phelim's life upends when he enters the kitchen and discovers a crowd of "stark-naked men and women about as tall as his waist, shaggy and matted with filth." These wild, scrabbly "prehistoric dwarfs" are glashans, people who tend the fields, invisible to humans. The whole motley crew has emerged from hiding to save the house from the Hatchlings, and for some reason they are counting on Phelim Green (newly dubbed Jack o' Green) to stop the Worm from waking up and demolishing the world.
The quirky, Oz-like odyssey that follows--fast-paced, powerful, and poetically told--is awash with Old Magic. As young Phelim plunges toward his quest, he wrenches himself out of the psychological clutches of his derisive older sister and into his own skin. Can Jack o' Green, with the help of a Fool (a "smelly old derelict" named Sweeney), a Maiden (a white-haired, upside-down-eyed girl he meets along the way named Alexia), and a Horse (the snickering "Obby Oss"), truly find the dreaded, slumbering Stoor Worm before its murderous hatchlings wreak havoc on Britain?
Award-winning British author and mythologist Geraldine McCaughrean (The Bronze Cauldron) draws on centuries-old folklore to create this rich, breathtaking fantasy. Sometimes terrifying, strangely beautiful, The Stones Are Hatching asks its readers to respect and appreciate the earth--a sacred place where everything is destroyed when we wage war, take our harvests for granted, and deny its magic. (Ages 12 and older) --Karin Snelson
From Publishers Weekly
"This evocative and sometimes profound fantasy distinguishes itself by way of vivid imagery, compelling action and often Siren-like lyricism," said PW in a starred review. Ages 10-up. (June)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
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Top customer reviews
Phelim, a young boy living in post World War I Cornwall, lives with his emotionally abusive sister; his mother is dead, his father is simply gone. But Phelim's life takes an unexpected turn when a bunch of scraggly prehistoric dwarves and something called the Domovoy invade his house, pursued by the sinister Black Dog. They force Phelim out, saying that he is Jack O'Green and has to deal with the Stoor Worm.
Before long, Phelim encounters mad Sweeney, a veteran of the Napoleonic wars who lives in perpetual terror in the trees; the Obby Oss, a delightfully goofy specter; and Alexia, a shadowless apprentice witch who fled her courses in the Dark Arts. So Phelim, the Maiden, the Fool and the Horse all set out (Phelim only half-willingly) to destroy the Stoor Worm, who was wakened by the guns of the first world war. And the heat from the wakening Worm is causing strange things to hatch from stones, and roam throughout the British Isles. And Phelim will encounter soul-stealing merrows, the hideous Noonday Twister and the bloodthirsty cornwives, skinless nuckelavees, maddened human beings, and finally the monstrous Stoor Worm itself...
McCaughrean does an excellent job with his book; with the slightly clueless hero, magical and sharp-witted heroine, and a pair of odd but poignant sidekicks, it reminds me of Lloyd Alexander's books. She also, unlike most authors, harbors no romantic illusions about "Old Ways" and how mean they could be. She is unafraid to weave the spectacular and the everyday, with a few subtle comments on the human condition.
Her writing is extremely evocative, very descriptive as children's books go; she devotes more descriptions to the oddities like the Oss than to ordinary things like the reapers. The dialogue is also very believable. McCaughrean also adds new spins to old ideas, such as the faeries; these are not innocent little sprites, or Elf-like Sidhe. Readers won't forget these faeries in a hurry.
A darker, bittersweet feel permeates the later chapters, where Phelim loses his innocent mindset, glimpses what he is capable of, and does something that readers may initially condemn. However, I applaud Ms. McCaughrean for having him do that, simply because his remorseful response after the fact is admirable and very true. But while everyone makes mistakes, and his feelings are certainly understandable, she also makes no excuses for what he did or felt; there are consequences to no longer being "ever-good." This is extremely rare in books of any kind, and to see it in a kids' book is excellent.
By an author with less talent, Phelim might have been a real pain to read about; he spends over half the book denying that he is Jack O'Green, and often responding wrongly or needing to be helped out. But his confusion and fear (especially after seeing his shirt being washed by... well, you'll see) over the things that he has seen and what he is expected to do is well written and understandable. Alexia initially seems like a fairly ordinary character, but her traumatic past adds an extra dimension and strength to her. Same with Sweeney, who initially seems like he will be an entertaining character, but his fear and guilt make him almost a tragic figure. The Oss is simply fun in an overall serious adventure. You just can't get him down, and he remains a source of emotional support and entertainment.
A tight, fast-paced and immensely imaginative fantasy story, this is a great read for kids and adults alike.