cover image The Alarming Career of Sir Richard Blackstone

The Alarming Career of Sir Richard Blackstone

Lisa Doan. Sky Pony, $15.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-5107-1122-8

Doan (the Berenson Schemes series) presents a witty mashup of farce, mystery, and fantasy, opens in an unspecified time in London’s past, where Henry Hewitt has been living on the streets, fleeing his ruthless parents, who are determined to sell him into an indentured life as a chimney sweep. In the first of several strokes of luck, Henry is whisked to the countryside after he’s hired as assistant to Sir Richard Blackstone, an aristocratic scientist who admits he was knighted “by dumb luck” when he accidentally invented the paper clip. Straight away, Henry discovers that one of his employer’s experiments (which “only went in two directions—nowhere or wrong”) has enlarged a tarantula to gargantuan proportions. A dominolike string of mishaps and discoveries ensues after the beast escapes, leading to Blackstone’s unearthing of an important footprint in a cave, his arrest for witchcraft and murder, and the unveiling of Henry’s true identity. As the story zips between poignant and preposterous, Doan’s characters—whether kind, bumbling, or nefarious—are uniformly entertaining and, in Henry’s case, entirely endearing. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Kathy Green, Kathryn Green Literary. (Feb.) [/em]