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Susan Cooper is one of our foremost children's authors; her classic five-book fantasy sequence The Dark Is Rising has sold millions of copies worldwide. Her many books have won the Newbery Medal, a Newbery Honor, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and been shortlisted five times for the Carnegie Medal. She combines fantasy with history in Victory (a Washington Post Top Ten for Children novel), King of Shadows and Ghost Hawk, and her magical The Boggart and the Monster, second in a trilogy, won the Scottish Arts Council's Children's Book Award. Susan Cooper lives on a saltmarsh island in Massachusetts, and you can visit her online at TheLostLand.com.
Gr 4-7-In this third book in Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising sequence (McElderry, 1985), Simon, Jane, and Barney return to Cornwall with their Uncle Merry after learning that the grail they had found in Over Sea, Under Stone (Harcourt, 1966) has been stolen from the British Museum. Will Stanton and his American uncle come to Cornwall as well, and initially there is some tension between the children. The locals are preparing for a celebration in which the women fashion a being from sticks and leaves and toss it into the sea. Jane's kindness wins the favor of this mystical effigy and it yields its secret the manuscript that will make it possible to decipher the writing on the grail. Although the grail has been stolen by the Dark, it is found and the writing proves to be the prophetic rhyme whose words will be fulfilled in the next books. The story requires some knowledge of the previous books, and only becomes complete after reading the subsequent books. This exciting and beautifully written story is filled with magic and mystery. It is unfortunate that the man who stole the grail identifies himself as part Romany, or Gypsy, thus reinforcing a negative stereotype. Alec Jennings does a superb job of reading this tale, as he has done with the first two books in the series. His expression and pacing suit the story well, and he is at ease with Cornish names and words. There are two places where editing cuts words short: when Merry tells the children to "look it up" it sounds like "crit up," and when the thief tells Barney to "open the box" it sounds like "pen the box." These quibbles aside, the technical quality is excellent. Libraries in which this series is popular will want this recording if they are buying the others in the sequence. Otherwise, The Dark Is Rising (Aug. 1999, p. 68) and The Grey King (Oct. 2001, p. 89) are more vital purchases.-Louise L. Sherman, formerly Anna C. Scott School Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.