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Moondial
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In a fantasy novel by the author of the Bagthorpe saga, Mintyshort for Aramintais spending the summer with her Aunt Mary, who lives next to old Belton House. Minty can sense things other people can't, and she finds she must help two tormented children, Tom and Sarah, from Belton House's past. The children appear as ghosts, stuck in their miserable lives until Minty can set them free. Meanwhile, Minty's mother has been seriously injured in a car accident. Hoping to release her mother from the spell of a coma, Minty tells her the story of the rescue of Tom and Sarah in cliff-hanging installations. While the timely role of the sundial-moondial will surprise few, Cresswell, with her sure hand for dialogue and believable characters, does a masterful job of making the story fresh and entertaining. Ages 10-14. (October)

Gr 5-8 From the very first pages, the mood of mystery/time travel fantasy is well-developed. When Minty is left at Aunt Mary's for a summer visit, she discovers cold spots on a hot July day and mysterious graves, and she hears crying children calling out to her. Then her mother is injured in an auto accident and falls into a deep coma. Minty seeks refuge from the reality of her mother's illness through her fascination with two poor and abused children from the past whom she meets through the help of a moondial. Readers will fear for Minty as she encounters ghosts; deals with a belligerent mob of superstitious, menacing children bent on attacking a poor birth-mark scarred child; and tries to fight off adults who beat a poor kitchen-boy living in 1871. This is a dark story of the battle of love over fear, a fight with a witch who does the devil's work, a story that ends on a long-ago Halloween night. Although this borders on morbid, the theme of ``Light and Shadow by turns, but always Love,'' saves it from a melancholy tone. There are not enough Briticisms to deter readers from finishing this exciting mystery steeped in the mysticism of moon and star time. The idea that Minty's mother, kept alive by sighing machines, is a refugee from time who is kept alive by her daughter's story of a time-riddle is a fascinating new plot. Susan McCord, Boise Public Library, Idaho

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