Day of Doom

978-0-545-29844-5. WEST, Jacqueline. The Strangers. Bk. 4. illus. by Poly Bernatene. 320p. (The Books of Elsewhere Series). Dial. July 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3690-0. LC 2012040004. Gr 4–6
With clear, vivid writing and flawless plotting, this latest installment of the Beyonders series races along to the trilogy’s conclusion. Readers will relate to the issues of trust that arise as the group separates to put its plan in motion. The characters must place their faith in a prophecy that describes an unlikely path to victory and decide whether to rely on allies who may have ulterior motives. They also must believe in themselves to achieve a seemingly impossible goal. The novel is full of fantastic creatures, such as the swift, silent, and almost unbeatable torivors; and displacers, whose hands, eyes, and ears can function while separated from their bodies. To his inventiveness Brandon Mull adds a powerful emotional climax as Jason, Rachel, and their friends risk everything to defeat the tyrannical wizard Maldor.
In her sixth book, changes continue for Clementine: her mother's belly is growing bigger, the fourth graders continue their reign of terror over the lunchroom (no crunching of any food!), neighbor Margaret's mother is getting married again, the third grade is going to Plimoth Plantation (and has to eat with the fourth graders!), and new girl Olive is stealing some of our heroine's thunder. Add to that the mystery of the ungodly stench on Bus 7 (which is assigned to Clementine's class for the field trip) and we have classic Clementine. Not only does she solve the mystery of the smelly bus but she also figures out why fussy Margaret is so neurotic and realizes that a new student might be a new friend. Clementine's voice is growing more sophisticated as she gets older, but it's still true to her age and her fans' ages, too. When Margaret finally agrees to join the rebellion and almost crunch her food, Clementine's description is hilarious: "Margaret's bite sounded like a moth's footstep. It sounded like a moth's footstep if the moth was crossing a carpet. And wearing socks." Clementine's family, too, is the kind that readers will want to be a part of -- they take care of and love one another without being cloying. robin l. smith

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