The Dead Gentleman

280p. Knopf. 2011. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-375-85596-2; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-375-95596-9; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-375-89780-1. LC number unavailable.
Gr 5–9—This complex, time-bending tale is told in alternating chapters. Tommy Learner tells about his adventures, which begin in New York in 1900, where he is a street child who supports himself by stealing. When he takes a magical metal bird from a man with the face of a corpse, he finds himself pursued by monsters and rescued by the Explorers' Society, a group that traverses magical worlds by traveling through time and space. After the living corpse, the Dead Gentleman of the title, attacks the Explorers, Tommy finds himself trapped and alone. Jezebel Lemon's chapters are told in third person. She is a contemporary girl who encounters Tommy's ghost in the basement of her apartment building and soon becomes aware of the many monsters and magical creatures that surround her otherwise-ordinary life. Tommy and Jez meet and realize that they must work together to save themselves, Merlin the magical bird, and Earth itself from the villain's schemes. Truly creepy monsters and nightmare figures, from the body-swapping Dead Gentleman to his vampire first lieutenant to a zombie dinosaur, bring a gripping sense of danger to the story, and real questions about the consequences of changing time add substance to the rapid action. Readers will be drawn into this story and challenged to follow its characters as they jump through time and fight to save us all.—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI
Steampunk for middle graders, this time-travel fantasy alternates between Tommy, an orphan from early 1900s New York, and Jezebel, a contemporary girl who comes across Tommy in the basement of her apartment building. Together, the two must save the world from a living corpse. Aside from a slow bit mid-book, this adventure is fast paced, with enough frights and near-misses to keep readers glued.

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