cover image McMummy: 4

McMummy: 4

Betsy Cromer Byars. Viking Children's Books, $15.99 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-670-84995-6

Having agreed to tend Professor Orloff's greenhouse in his absence, Mozie finds more than he'd bargained for: a human-size, mummy-shaped pod that hums with energy and seems to call to him with a silent but compelling force. His dread of the creature--if that is indeed what it is--gradually tilts toward a profound sympathy, which in turn helps to put Mozie in touch with his sorrow about his father's death and to embrace the possibility of new life. Byars, who received the Newbery Medal for The Summer of the Swans , leavens her shivery tale with ample measures of comedy, evident especially in the antics of Mozie and irrepressible best friend, Batty, and in Mozie's and Batty's sparkling dialogue. Her touch for the memorably incongruous detail is in full flourish as well. The cast of supporting characters ranges from a dizzy but surprisingly intuitive beauty queen named Valvoline to a guardedly affectionate cat named Pine Cone who has literally fallen into Mozie's life--from a passing airplane--and deigned to stay. And beneath the heady brew of mystery and humor lie poignant insights about attachment and loss. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)