Kathy Mackel, Author, Kathryn Mackel, Author . HarperCollins $15.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-06-029281-2

With a frenetic energy and sci-fi subject matter similar to her Can of Worms , Mackel introduces eighth-grader Sean Winger, who is determined to make glassblowing his life's work. His down-to-earth parents envision a much more straightforward career for him, and refuse to enroll him in the arts-centered high school he desires. Enter Tagg Orion, a cosmic flea market peddler whose enormous spaceship is somehow contained within a small bottle that washes up on a beach and lands in Sean's hands. Tagg hopes to escape the vengeful Dinn Tauro, who purchased a device from Tagg that was supposed to bring his dreams to life but instead animates only his nightmares. Sean and his friend Olivia end up helping Tagg; in the process Sean finds opportunities to test his glassmaking skills and prove himself to his parents, while the sneaky Tagg learns a lesson about selfishness. Genre fans will be willing to go along with the goofy plot for the sake of Mackel's snappy pacing and sharp prose. At breakfast, for example, the parents "[chew] their high-fiber cereal while they [digest] their high-minded Financial Times ." The glassblowing story line adds some dimension to Sean's character and gives readers a chance to learn about the craft, too. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/02/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
Library Binding - 194 pages - 978-0-06-029282-9
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