The Floating Island

Elizabeth Haydon, Author, Brett Helquist, Illustrator , illus. by Brett Helquist. Tor/Starscape $17.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0867-2

The sometimes exciting, sometimes ponderous first volume in Haydon's the Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme series mixes narrative with "lost journal" entries to tell the story of Ven, the youngest of 13 children in a Nain family. The Nain are a race that lives four times longer than humans. Ven, whose family is renowned for its ship-building prowess, is giving one of their boats a pre-sale inspection when it comes under a vicious attack from the Fire Pirates. After a courageous and resourceful retaliation—one which nonetheless leaves Ven unconscious—he is rescued by a mermaid-like creature and ends up aboard a ship of friendly adventurers. From there it's a kitchen sink's worth of fantasy/adventure encounters, from a talking cat to mysterious puzzle boxes to the undead. Most interesting is the island of the title, "a ship of sorts" connected to the world's creation story, "a very old place, a magical place." Haydon spins a story both warm and thrilling. The book's alternating-narrative structure, however, is less successful. Ven's entries are infrequent enough that they feel like more of an interruption in the story's flow than part and parcel of it. But strong box office interest in pirates and all things nautical bodes well for this title. Final artwork not seen by PW . Ages 10-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/18/2006
Release date: 08/01/2006
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Glued - 368 pages - 978-1-62765-714-3
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4178-2838-8
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-7653-4772-5
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-7653-7590-2
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4299-1243-3
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