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Armed with the Lyre of Orpheus, which, when strummed, gives Owen the power of persuasion, they make a deal with Hades, who gives them a chance to find Dana. They do battle with the likes of Cerberus, Myrmidons and Loki. Hades, however, is a double dealer who ups the ante: They are forced do his bidding or lose Dana forever—which becomes the catalyst for the next installment. Intricate black-and-white sketches of mythical monsters and maps enhance this lean and lively tale. A quest just right for readers on the cusp of Percy Jackson.

Kriss Kringle, Used

Abandoned by his mother, Derek somehow survives a freak train accident that kills his remaining family. The real action starts in book two, Bayou Dogs , when Derek is on the run from angry ghosts that have been set loose among the living. Abbott has put some serious thought into understanding the divide between life and death, mixing physics and metaphysics with ease.

The Secrets of Droon drew to a close in the summer of with The Final Quest , the longest of the 44 Droon adventures and one that sees many of our favorite characters joining to solve the biggest mystery of them all. After spending nearly half his writing life in Droon, it was been no easy thing for Abbott to say goodbye, and he knows that part of him will always be on a quest with Eric, Julie, Keeah, and Neal. One great satisfaction has been the thousands of letters and email messages he has received over the last decade.

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Some readers who began reading the Droon stories back in are writing to him now as young adults; some are in college; many are now fledgling writers. Honestly, eleven years in the land of Droon? He is the luckiest writer he knows. Visit the Scholastic, Inc. It is a story of North and South, of Jim Crow racism, both subtle and blatant, of guiltless victims, and of surprising tenderness.

A less capable author could easily have confused readers with everything that is going on in this book, but Abbott weaves a fun, engaging tale that draws in readers and keeps them entertained. Tom has a crush on Courtney, a beautiful and popular classmate, and he imagines himself as a superhero who can rescue her from danger. Jessica, who has been badly burned in a fire, joins their class at St. None of the students attempts to get to know Jessica. Tom, too, initially keeps his distance, though he unlike Jeff holds her hand during class prayer time. When he brings Jessica her homework on a day she is absent, the girl poignantly opens up to him and he, in turn, shares his secret thoughts and superhero fantasies with her.

Ages When they are attacked by goblins, Kringle runs away, meets friendly shoe-repairing elves and pirates, and above all makes it his mission to rescue Merwen and hundreds of children. This fantasy combines magic elven runes and flying reindeer , history the end of the Roman occupation figures prominently, as does a certain Brother Alban , theology Kringle is fascinated to learn about baby Jesus and his family , and a good dose of imagination to come up with a delightful explanation of the origins of our present-day Santa Claus.

But be careful with them, for they reek of danger According to old customs, holly should never be brought into your house before Christmas Eve or bad luck will result. The customs were writ before the advent of the recycling wheelie bin, of course, so you might be able to circumvent them in that way. But perhaps a safer bet is to store holly and ivy in the house until next year — apparently, this is a sure-fire way of preventing a lightning strike on your home. Perhaps you could save a sprig of holly to stick on top of the Christmas pudding, like what you see on Christmas cards but never actually in real life.

It was once thought to be lucky to partake in the act of making the pudding, especially if the pudding was stirred east-to-west. But be careful getting there; on that night cattle are said to kneel down and speak in human voices. And those leaving church on Christmas Eve while the consecration is still going on are bang-on guaranteed to witness a procession of ghosts wending their way through the streets. Speaking of supernatural beings abroad on Christmas Eve, what about the big man himself? Father Christmas, Santa, Saint Nick. Why do we hang a stocking out for him?

But though the company did debut ads featuring Father Christmas enjoying a Coke and a smile in , he had been seen in his more familiar red once or twice before then. Nothing sinister about that. But perhaps we can bring the ancient mythology story of the goddess Cybele and the mortal Attis into this. Rather displeased, Cybele sent Attis mad, and he ran in a crazy rage through the mountains, eventually for reasons best known to himself castrating himself at the foot of a pine tree.

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