Children's Book Reviews

The Internet Writing Journal, March 2000
Page Two of Two

The Hobbit, A 3-D Pop-Up Adventure by J.R.R. Tolkien, Illustrated by John Howe

HarperFestival, 1999
Hardcover, 10 pages
Ages 4-8
ISBN: 0694014362.
Ordering information:
Amazon.com. | Amazon.co.uk


The Hobbit, A 3-D Pop-Up Adventure
by J.R.R. Tolkien, Illustrated by John Howe Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy classic, The Hobbit, will thrill to see this beautifully rendered pop-up edition of the story. The book opens with the infamous tea party at Bilbo Baggins' comfortable hobbit hole, in which Gandalf the wizard (who pops out of the front door when the latch is opened) arranges for a treasure hunting expedition with the dwarves and a reluctant Bilbo. A pull-out card with text give the flavor of the scene, as the dwarves call out their orders of food to a confused Bilbo, who is not at all sure he likes the sound of adventures, dragons and gold. There are five, two-sided pop-up pages in the book. In addition to the tea party scene, the book also showcases Bilbo's meeting under the mountains with the slimy Gollum, his battle with the spiders in the forests of Mirkwood, his encounter with the mighty dragon, Smaug, and the Battle of the Five Armies which is the climax of the tale. The illustrations are superb, with beautiful shadings and colors, and intricate detail. This is a must-have for any Tolkien-lover, and for children who are just making their acquaintance with the enduring classic that is The Hobbit.


Morning, Noon and Night by Jean Craighead George, Paintings by Wendel Minor

HarperCollins, 1999.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Ages 4-8
ISBN: 0060236280.
Ordering information:
Amazon.com. | Amazon.co.uk


Morning, Noon and Night
by Jean Craighead George, Paintings by Wendel Minor Jean Craighead George, author of over eighty children's books, including the Newberry Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves, celebrates the cycle of morning, noon to night as observed by animals found across the United States, from Maine to California. The book begins with the phrase, "Good morning, the dawn, when the earth is turning from night to day and waking begins," which is beautifully illustrated in vibrant oranges, greens and browns showing a dolphin observing the sunrise over the land and the last beams of the lighthouse over a nearby promontory. Animals such as the stork and the cardinal stretch and sing to greet the day. As the sun comes up, work begins for the oxen, the eagle, and the bees. As the day progresses we see the activities of different animals, until at last it is evening again, and the owlet sings, "Who, the night, Who, Who?" The story ends with the beginning of yet another day.

The wildlife paintings by Wendell Minor are vivid, colorful and perfectly complement the lyrical quality of George's writing. The book will be visually appealing to children, and is an excellent aide for teaching them about the cycle of our own days, as well as the habits of animals in the wild and on the farms.


Sir Stalwart: Book One of The King's Daggers by Dave Duncan

Avon, Nov., 1999.
Paperback, 256 pages
Young Adult
ISBN: 0380800985.
Ordering information:
Amazon.com. | Amazon.co.uk


Sir Stalwart: Book One of The King's Daggers
by Dave Duncan Bestselling fantasy novelist Dave Duncan mines his popular King's Blades series to create a spin-off, young adult series called The King's Daggers. Sir Stalwart is the youngest and the smallest of the senior class at the Ironhall academy, but he is also the fastest runner and a fantastic swordsman. From the senior class, the next group of boys will be chosen to be a member of the of the King's Blades, that elite group of swordsmen sworn to service of the King, in an ancient and magical ceremony. Sir Stalwart, known by the unfortunate nickname of Wart to his fellow students, gets publicly expelled from Ironhall before he can officially become a King's Blade. But there is more to Stalwart's expulsion than meets the eye, and soon the former student is swept up in a maelstrom of danger, intrigue and adventure. With Emerald, a young woman who has just been expelled from the order of the White Sisters, (the order that can sniff out magic and are used to detect sorcery), Stalwart must stop an assassination plot against the king and foil those who would destroy the kingdom with evil magic.

Sir Stalwart is classic Dave Duncan: breathtakingly exciting with vivid characters and a fast-moving plot. We also get some fascinating background material about the training of the White Sisters and the role of the King's Blades in the Monster War. Written for the young adult market, the King's Daggers books are shorter than those in the King's Blades series, and are somewhat simplified as to the reading level. But the excitement, interesting plot, and intriguing and dangerous world of Chivial are still here, and the only complaint readers will have is that the story ended too soon. Highly recommended.


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