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					The HORN BOOK GUIDE                                                July–December 2009                                 INTERMEDIATE • 61

             INTERMEDIATE FICTION                                            Appelbaum, Susannah The Hollow Bettle
                                                                                 403 pp. Knopf isbn 978-0-375-85173-5 $16.99
                                                                                 le isbn 978-0-375-95173-2 $19.99
Amato, Mary Invisible Lines                                                  (3) Illustrated by Jennifer Taylor. Poisons of Caux series.
     299 pp. Egmont isbn 978-1-60684-010-8 $15.99
                                                                             Ivy lives in a “poison or be poisoned” society. Her uncle, an
     le isbn 978-1-60684-043-6 $18.99
                                                                             apotheopath, disappears after a visit to the wicked king,
(3) Illustrated by Antonio Caparo. Trevor’s family has just                  leaving Ivy to venture out to find him—and save the entire
moved to the Hedley (a.k.a. “Deadly”) Gardens apartment                      kingdom. Appelbaum has created a wildly inventive, fully
complex. As he seeks his place at a new school, among new                    realized, and mysterious world. Taylor’s eerie green-and-
friends, on a soccer team, and in an advanced science class,                 white illustrations help readers visualize some of the story’s
Trevor tries to navigate the “invisible lines” that govern his               fantastical details. lal
world. His frank, affable voice delivers a memorable narra-
tive. rlh
                                                                             Armstrong, Alan Looking for Marco Polo
L Anderson, M. T. Jasper Dash and the Flame-
                                                                                 289 pp. Random isbn 978-0-375-83321-2 $16.99
                                                                                 le isbn 978-0-375-93321-9 $19.99
Pits of Delaware                                                             (3) Illustrated by Tim Jessell. Mark’s anthropologist dad
     423 pp. Simon/Beach Lane isbn 978-1-4169-8639-3 $16.99                  heads to the Gobi Desert to “meet and live with the desert
(2) Illustrated by Kurt Cyrus. Pals in Peril Tale series.                    people like Marco Polo did.” After Dad goes missing, Mark
Jasper, Katie, and Lily (Whales on Stilts, The Clue of the                   and his mother travel to Polo’s home city of Venice to inves-
Linoleum Lederhosen) again save the world. A “competitive                    tigate. Fearful and tentative, the main character (with help
staring” contest begins the nonsense, setting off a chain of                 from a talking dog) finds courage. The family drama plus
events in which the friends help monks retrieve stolen arti-                 stories of Marco in Italy will hold readers’ interest. Bib. erg
facts. Anderson stuffs every scene with exotic setting
details; that the mystical locale is Delaware gives the story
an added layer of absurdity. Review 9/09. cmh

The Storm in the Barn. © 2009 by Matt Phelan. Review on page 80.
62 • INTERMEDIATE                                       July–December 2009                              The HORN BOOK GUIDE

Avi Murder at Midnight                                             Barnett, Mac The Case of the Mistaken Identity
    254 pp. Scholastic isbn 978-0-545-08090-3 $17.99                   181 pp. Simon isbn 978-1-4169-7815-2 $14.99
(4) In this prequel to Midnight Magic, homeless servant boy        (4) Illustrated by Adam Rex. Brixton Brothers series.
Fabrizio begins his work with Mangus the Magician. Trou-           Twelve-year-old Steve Brixton loves detective stories. After
ble is afoot in this convoluted fifteenth-century Italian-         picking up a library book full of the nation’s secrets, he
palace intrigue as Mangus’s enemies frame him for treason.         suddenly finds himself in the middle of a mystery, and
The sketchy character development masks Fabrizio’s                 everyone thinks he’s the villain. The characters are a little
motives and Mangus’s reluctance for his help, making this          one-note (Rex’s digital illustrations help round them out),
offering most meaningful for readers of the earlier book. bc       but the story’s action and humor should propel reluctant
                                                                   readers. lcf
Baccalario, Pierdomenico Ring of Fire
    293 pp. Random isbn 978-0-375-85895-6 $16.99                   L Barratt, Mark Joe Rat
    le isbn 978-0-375-95895-3 $19.99                                   310 pp. Eerdmans pe isbn 978-0-8028-5356-1 $9.00
(4) Translated by Leah D. Janeczko. Illustrated by Iacopo          (2) Joe is a tosher, kept this side of starvation by trawling
Bruno. Century Quartet series. As a new century                    London’s sewers for metal and stray coins. Bess is a country
approaches, circumstance brings a mysterious briefcase into        girl, brought to the city to be sold. While their Dickensian
the possession of Harvey, Mistral, Sheng, and Elettra. After       story is unflinchingly realistic, there’s also more than a little
its owner is murdered, the four learn they are this century’s      “Hansel and Gretel” at work. The children’s happy ending
guardians of the map inside. Though there’s not a lot of           might not be exactly earned, but it is welcome. Review
depth or character development and the present-tense nar-          1/10. rs
ration is clunky, the story’s layers of secrets and cliffhangers
create a page-turner. sf                                           Barron, T. A. Merlin’s Dragon: Doomraga’s
Baggott, Julianna The Ever Breath                                      238 pp. Philomel isbn 978-0-399-25212-9 $19.99
    231 pp. Delacorte isbn 978-0-385-73761-6 $16.99
                                                                   (4) Basil the dragon is big enough to beat up bad guys, but
    le isbn 978-0-385-90676-0 $19.99
Description: A "competitive staring" contest begins the nonsense, setting off a chain of events in which the friends help monks retrieve stolen artifacts. The sketchy character development masks Fabrizio 's motives and Mangus's reluctance for his help, making this offering most meaningful for readers of the earlier book, BC Baccalario, Pierdomenico Ring of Fire 293 pp. Baker's signature humor and fairy-tale adventures make for an entertaining read, particularly when Audun attempts to act like a person, BLM Barber, Tiki, and Ronde Barber Wild Card 156 pp.
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