This first of a series of young adult fantasy novels, originally published in 2007, makes excellent use of cinematic music and digital sound effects. Multiple actors voice the central characters, who are oddly named after famous prisons: there’s the 13-year old protagonist Alcatraz Smedry, his grandfather Leavenworth, best friends Sing and Quentin, and Bastille, a strong, clever, angry, and thoroughly obnoxious girl who tags along. They are fighting the “evil librarians” who are attempting to take over the world. Alcatraz, struggling with his irresolution and lack of confidence, has, like the other members of his family, an unusual talent: in his case, the ability to destroy whatever he touches. This is evoked with lots of loud and suggestive sound effects during the big battle scenes. The production includes 17 actors, most of whom seem to have very minor roles, but their variety and a remarkably good musical score contribute to the jolly mood of violent mayhem. Ages 9–up. A Scholastic hardcover. (Dec.)
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