Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Alchemist's Shadow and What is the Story of Doctor Who?

Funaro, Gregory. The Alchemist's Shadow (Watch Hollow #2)
February 18th 2020 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by the author

Lucy and Oliver Tinker and their father Charles are getting settled into Watch Hollow after their harrowing introduction to it when Agatha and Algernon Kojima arrive at the house with their nanny, Bedelia Graves, claiming that the house belongs to the children. Their great uncle, Oliver Snockett, is somehow related to Edgar Blackford, and even though the Tinkers are the caretakers and have the deeds to the property, the group is set to move in, especially since the Kojima children lost their parents in an accident and Algernon is now not speaking.The father reluctantly agrees; after all, it's the annual Watch Hollow celebration, and the house has an unusual history. Soon, though, Ms. Graves is sucked into he clock of the house, and the animals come out in the day time. Of course, the father is in town when this happens! Not only that, but there is a Minotaur on the loose, and it is trying to drag everything back into the labyrinth with it! There is a lot of fighting and running while Lucy and Agatha and Oliver and Algernon try to figure out what is going on. The clock animals try to help, but there is still a greater evil hovering over Watch Hollow. When an evil character from the Kojima's past shows up, some things are explained, but the book ends with an old man from the town parade demanding the ruby amulet that was given to the group and was wanted by the Minotaur, so there should be at least one more book in the series!
Strengths: This was rather brilliantly paced, with lots of exciting scenes interspersed with brief moments of explanation and investigation, so the story never bogged down-- it just gave me a little time to catch my breath before heading off into danger again! The number one complaint students have about books is that "nothing happens", and they can't say that about this book! It was interesting to add another family into the mix, so that Lucy and Oliver had some other children to help them with the house, and there's just the right level of evil in the bad characters. Watch Hollow has been popular in my library, so my students will be looking forward to this one.
Weaknesses: Did they ever figure out who was the proper heir to the house? I even took notes on this book, but forget! Maybe they do that in the next book.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and this would do well in an elementary library as well.

Cooper, Gabriel P. What is the Story of Doctor Who?
October 15th 2019 by Penguin Workshop
School library copy

Confession: I've never seen a single episode of Doctor Who, even though I have students who have made their own sonic screwdrivers who have asked me to watch it. I've always felt that I should go back to the very first 1963 series to do it justice, but that is hard to do! Having read this book, I feel that I know enough background to start with the more easily available episodes that start in 2005!

From its beginnings as an educational program for children to its position as a popular, glitzy sci fi program today, I'm impressed by several things. For one, incorporating changes of bodies into the very fiber of the character is brilliant and makes the series one that stays fresh over a long period of time. This book does a great job of describing the evolution of the show and telling about the different doctors, as well as how the show was received by the public during its history.

These books are short, quick reads, but very informative! I feel like I should pick up the volume on Princess Leia (I also have only ever seen the Star Wars movie with the teddy bears on mopeds *hangs head in shame*) and Scooby Doo, and maybe even the Area 51 book. My only quibble with these is that drawings are used instead of pictures. They are high quality drawings, and using photos would no doubt be cost prohibitive. I feel conversant about Doctor Who now!


  1. I'm so excited there's a Who Was (Is) book about Dr. Who! I was a fan back in the 80's and 90's (when I could catch it) and sometimes watch it with my daughter, who is a big fan. I agree with you about the Who Was series--they are quick and informative and I really enjoy them but I wish they'd use something other than those line drawings, which, I must say, aren't always the best. The Where is the Panama Canal book had photos but none of the others. Go figure.

  2. The Dragon Egg Princess sounds really good. I hope my library gets it in.