Monday, October 31, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Phantom Limb by William Sleator

About The Book: Isaac is the new kid in town. His mother, Vera, is in the hospital with a mysterious illness, and the only person left to care for Isaac is his distant grandfather. Friendless and often alone, Isaac loses himself in his collection of optical illusions, including a strange mirror box that he finds in his new house, left behind by the previous tenants. Designed for amputees, it creates the illusion of a second limb.
     Lonely Isaac wishes someone would reach out to him, and then someone does—a phantom limb within the mirror box! It signs to Isaac about a growing danger: someone who has murdered before and is out to get Vera next. The only way Isaac can solve the mystery and save his mother is with the help of the mirror box. But can he trust the phantom limb? -Goodreads

First Line: Finally, Friday afternoon and the last bell- the moment he lived for.

What Others Are Saying: "Not even hammer-and-tongs plotting pounds this jumbled mess of random McGuffins into a coherent whole." -Kirkus Reviews

"The characters are broadly drawn, and the hospital plot isn’t particularly believable, although there’s plenty of action and a genuinely sicko villain." -Publishers Weekly

What I Thought: Ouch! Those are some pretty searing reviews. I thought the book sounded really interesting: phantom limbs, optical illusions, mystery, danger. The pace was quick because something was happening all the time. I really liked the information about different optical illusions and the mirror box and I think kids will too. Especially those that love R.L. Stine. Since I haven't read any of Sleator's other books, I didn't have anything to compare to. Was it one of the best books I've read? No. Was it horrible? No. Reading this has enticed me to read some of his other books, House of Stairs and Intersteller Pig. There are thirty that he wrote over a period of thirty years. That's impressive. Check out his other books here. Sadly, Mr. Sleator died this last August in his home in Thailand.

Author: William Sleator
February 13, 1945 – August 3, 2011

Website Maintained by his brother.

Who: Born in Havre de Grace, MD, on Feb. 13, 1945, Sleator came from a family steeped in the sciences, but drifted to the arts at a young age, crafting musical pieces for the piano as well as stories to his family's delight. For awhile, he balanced a career in both music and writing, working as an accompanist for organizations including the Boston Ballet after graduating from Harvard University. He was eventually was able to support himself full time from his storytelling. --School Library Journal

What: Best known for his dystopian stories, Sleator often placed his teenage protagonists in uneasy, sometimes frightening situations where they encountered aliens and even evil dolls. In one of his best-known books, House of Stairs (Dutton, 1974), five teenage orphans wake up, locked in a house without windows or doors. The book, named one of the 100 Best Books for Teens by the American Library Association, was the first he wrote for editor Ann Durrell, spawning the beginning of a long collaboration. -School Library Journal

How: A "...master of the creepy-crawly," as The Horn Book described him, Sleator's genius lay in "...taking vague science-fiction whimsy and using imagery to word-paint it into a stunning virtual reality," according to School Library Journal. Colleagues, too, enjoyed Sleator's work, including bestselling children's book author R. L. Stine who called Sleator one "...of my favorite young adult authors." -School Library Journal

Don't forget to check out all the other Marvelous Middle Grade Posters. Head on over to Rudy (Silly me!) Natalie at Literary Rambles their giving away the ARC of My Very Unfairy Tale Life by Anna Staniszewski.


  1. Pam, I think that's brave of you to review a book that didn't get great reviews from the pros! So what if Kirkus didn't like it. They don't like a lot of books!

    I haven't read very many of his books, but I know he was good at writing creepy stuff.

  2. You know, everyone enjoys different kinds of writing and different types of stories. That's part of the beauty of what stories are; they speak to everyone in their own way.

  3. William Sleator is very, very good at what he does, imo. This isn't one I have read, but have done with many of his others, Interstellar Pig being a favorite. Thanks for featuring him!!

  4. Hmmm...I haven't seen this one before, but I like William Sleator. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the review. :-)

  5. Cool premise. And I like how you've got MMGM format arranged. Thanks!

  6. I'd never heard of William Sleator till I read his obituary in August. He does sound right up my scary alley. (And Kirkus must be the refuge of a lot of dyspeptic grouches. It seems well-known for its grumpy reviews.)

    Thanks for yet another great review, Pam.

  7. Hey Pam, thanks for the shout out about Literary Rambles, but it's Natalie, not Rudy (I share my e-mail with my husband Rudy). Those were some ouchy reviews, but thanks for reading it and letting us know what you thought. I agree. The blurb sounds intriguing.


I would love to hear from you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...