cover image The Parent Thief

The Parent Thief

Mitra Modarressi. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-09476-1

The last place Jack wants to be is on a dull sea cruise with his family. So, when a mysterious boy, Quinn, offers to take him to an island populated entirely by children, Jack agrees. Off they fly in a bathtub-shaped balloon craft to Broomstick Island, which is just as much fun as Quinn has promised. Once there, the two boys decide to trade places until the end of the cruise. Thanks to Quinn's magic, their scheme works--especially for Quinn who, as Jack discovers, plans on leaving him on the island and taking his place in his family forever. As she did in The Dream Pillow, Modarressi spins a hip fairy tale that's both bewitching and slightly sinister. The shadowy watercolors appear fragile, as if painted on eggshells, yet own a prickly quality that adds to the sense of foreboding.The wrap-up is a bit too swift to satisfy, however, and questions remain: Are the other children on the island the victims of ``parent thieves''? Will Quinn ever find a family? At the conclusion, readers of this adventure will feel that they've woken, safe and sound, from a vaguely eerie dream. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)