cover image The Eagle as Wide as the World

The Eagle as Wide as the World

X. J. Kennedy. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $16 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81157-9

The eagle of the title is not much more than 40 feet wide, and the rest of this sequel to The Owlstone Crown proves similarly hyperbolic. The narrator, Timothy, and his twin sister, legally blind weight-lifter Verity, live in the Land of the Moonflower on Other Earth. Readers new to this fantasy world will have some difficulty sorting out its logic. Tim's half-brother, Mustard, is kidnapped by giant bees, but no one thinks to look for him on the island where the bees live until the novel is a third over; instead, the twins and a bear bodyguard are sent to a Dickensian boarding school that has been taken over by bees in disguise. The jokes come fast, often delivered with the hokey chutzpah of a Catskills comedian. ""I was fit to be tied,"" says Tim. ""In fact, I was tied. That rope had me all curled up."" The twins finally search for Mustard on April Fool Isle, where animals are giant-sized and the humans play mean-spirited practical jokes all day. For budding naturalists, there are some entertaining sequences in a gargantuan beehive, and fans of the first book will giggle at Verity's condescending interruptions of her brother's story. Others, however, may find the whole book as overblown as its characters are outsize. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)