The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt was a very enjoyable read. The magic elements were well-done: scary and not overdone. The puzzle of the will was thorny, and obvious, once it was explained. I still like Johnny. As Bellairs says in the book, “Johnny was a pretty strong boy, in spite of his timidity.” Johnny has determination, and although he is not the best athlete, he never comes across as wimpy as Lewis Barnavelt. I love the addition of Fergie. He’s smart just like Johnny, and they get into a trivia dual when they first meet. Fergie is also athletic and brave. I can’t wait for the further adventures of Johnny, Fergie, and Professor Childermass.Bongo Reader
Edward Gorey did a frontispiece and maps for the book. The Johnny Dixon series doesn’t have many illustrations, but Gorey did a great job of conveying mood and plot through the few illustrations.
review of: mummy the will and the crypt
review of: curse of the blue figurine
As with Lewis, Johnny is sort of an orphan. I say sort of because Johnny’s mom recently died from cancer, and his father has gone off to be a fighter pilot in the Korean War. As Bellairs comments at the beginning of the story, Johnny’s dad could have had a compassionate release from the war, but he really wanted to fly a fighter jet. Well, that’s just wonderful for him, but how about his poor son? So that part obviously rubbed me the wrong way.Bongo Reader
Maybe because I so recently finished The Figure in the Shadows, I recognized all the similarities. Both Lewis and Johnny have problems with bullies. Both wind up wearing something (Lewis wears a necklace, and Johnny wear a ring) that negatively controls their behavior and that fights removal. Both of the evil characters are nebulous, hovering, dark forms. Even with all the similarities, I found myself liking Johnny. Also, the professor is a much more realistic and interesting character than Uncle Jonathan. The Figure in the Shadows came first in 1975, while The Curse of the Blue Figurine was published in 1983. The other books in the Johnny Dixon series sound fun, so I’ll continue reading them.
review of: letter the witch and the ring
I could feel a strong connection to Rose Rita. Growing up is a hard thing to do, especially when you realize that the growing up might involve some major changes on your part. It’s even harder when those changes are really not wanted, such as Rose Rita wanting to continue to be a tomboy instead of a girly girl. The situation became quite tense, and there were some especially harrowing moments towards the end of the book. Will Rose Rita change, and will she be happy with the change? Who knows? As Mrs. Zimmermann says Rose Rita will just have to wait and see how her life turns out. That’s all any of us can do.Bongo Reader
review of: figure in the shadows
The tension builds nicely and draws the reader into the action. The only thing that annoyed me is Lewis’ extreme crybaby routine. I found myself wishing that Uncle Jonathan would tell Lewis to stop being such a wuss and stand up for himself. Rose Rita does effectively stand up for herself, and the contrast between her and wussy Lewis is striking.Bongo Reader
The story was a quick read, and I found myself rooting for Lewis. The action moved fast and furious at the end, and I just know that there will be more exciting adventures for Lewis and company. The most interesting thing is that Edward Gorey illustrated the book, and his illustrations really add to the eerie atmosphere. Because I am such a read-aholic, I got several John Bellairs books from the library. Now, I’m hoping for a nice, good thunderstorm tonight!Bongo Reader
This was a re-read for me – I’d stashed the book in my desk at work in case I finished whatever I’d brought with me to read on breaks. I love this series; I love all of John Bellairs’s books. Forget Goosebumps, these were the creepy books I loved as a kid. And you know, they’re still kind of creepy, with their old-fashioned magic and ghosts and zombies, their heavy Catholic flavor, and their really wonderful villains. I love all the characters — I love how Lewis is terrified and still determined to prove himself, and I love how Uncle Jonathan doesn’t quite know how to take care of him but tries anyway. And I love Mrs. Zimmerman and her love of purple. If she wants to be a witch with a purple dress and a purple cape and a glowing purple wand, she will be, and she will still kick your ass.
Jen Moore / The (Hopeful) Librarian
This book was written in 1973 and was directed towards children. I remember reading it growing up and recently ordered it online to reread and see if it was as good as I remember it. I think it was as good. Although it's a "children's book" it's really sort of not. There are some adult themes lurking about that only become apparent upon re-reading with insight gained over time.
It's set in mid 20th century Michigan in the fictional town of New Zebedee. This town is very closely modeled after Bellairs' hometown of Marshall, Michigan. Marshall has one of the state's largest historic districts. Reading the thinly veiled descriptions in the book makes you want to go visit. I've only been through the town once but I would like to go back for a proper visit one day.
When Lewis foolishly dabbles in magic to try to impress one of the "cool kids", he inadvertently resurrects Selenna Izzard, who starts to finish the work that she and her husband started. His uncle and Mrs. Zimmerman must test their strength against Selenna's and try to stave off the end of the world. This book was illustrated by Edward Gorey and is almost worth reading for the art alone. Fun stuff. I love the descriptions of the stained glass windows, staircases and hidden rooms. This is great gothic writing and brings back fun memories.
Shady_Grady at Urban Politico
This book scared the crap out of me as a child.
So in re-reading this book this time, all these years later, I wanted to see if it would scare me again.
It didn’t. But it’s a really enjoyable book, nonetheless, and I appreciate that young-Amy read it at such an impressionable age. I think it may have warped my young brain JUST enough. Well-played, book.
There’s also a whole plotline that I think explains why I loved this book to distraction as a kid – Lewis is chubby and new in town, and he tries desperately to make friends. People call him names and refuse to let him play sports with them (because he, like young, and also current, Amy, is TERRIBLE at them.) He’s so desperate to make friends that he makes some really terrible decisions in the process. I’m pretty sure this resonated with little lonely Amy, organizing her books according to the Dewey Decimal system rather than hanging out with other kids her age.
I found out while reading this book it’s the first in a series. How did I not know this as a kid? I think maybe discovering what happens next in Lewis’ life might be in order.
I don’t know how obscure this book is – you get a lot of hits for it when you put it into Google – but it’s part of my strange little childhood, so that’s almost as good, I think.
Plus, Weird Beard. I mean, come on. You have to love a book where someone’s friend calls them Weird Beard.
LucyFootball @ BookSnobbery