Luc Besson is the award-winning writer/director/producer of such movies as The Fifth Element, The Big Blue and Nikita. Arthur and the Minimoys and Arthur and the Forbidden City are Besson's first novels for children.
Gr 4-6-This sequel to Besson's Arthur and the Minimoys (HarperCollins, 2005) continues the story of a boy who, in search of his missing grandfather lost while exploring in Africa, found himself shrunken to a half-inch tall. Arthur was caught up in an adventure with the Minimoys, a tiny race of people inhabiting his grandmother's garden. Here, Arthur journeys with the Minimoy Princess Selenia and her brother Betameche in search of the forbidden city of Necropolis, home of the villainous wizard Maltazard. They must make their way past sticky spider webs and Maltazard's threatening henchmen, and Arthur falls in love with Selenia. The author, a well-known film director, has not succeeded so well as a children's book author. The plot is weak and muddled. The prose-admittedly a translation-is filled with pronouncements laden with exclamation points and attempts at humor that weigh down the story. Readers also meet Arthur's parents, who act in buffoonish and inappropriate ways as they search for him. Arthur, in love, behaves as if he has at least passed puberty, although he's only supposed to be 10. He even marries Princess Selenia-who is alternately charming and annoying-fairly early in the story. Besson, however, plans to turn this weak tale into an animated adventure in 2006 that will feature Madonna as the voice of Princess Selenia. So beware, all those who decide to skip Forbidden City.-Walter Minkel, New York Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.