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The Unseen World of Poppy Malone: A Gaggle of Goblins

Review

The Unseen World of Poppy Malone: A Gaggle of Goblins

THE UNSEEN WORLD OF POPPY MALONE: A GAGGLE OF GOBLINS is an enchanting adventure of a young girl who sees a goblin in her attic. It would be different if her mom or dad saw it; they study the paranormal, so they're always looking for UFOs, chasing monsters and seeking out vampires. Poppy's family moves to Austin, Texas, because her parents feel there is a lot of paranormal activity there.

Immediately upon settling into their new house, Poppy's mom concludes that a dark presence lurks there. All the suspicious accidents that happen --- a bag of flour toppling down on her sister, Franny, or Mrs. Malone tripping over the garden hoe --- point to a sinister explanation. Poppy needs to take a break from her parents, so she goes up to the attic where, to her surprise, she spots a goblin. Naturally, she tries to chase after it. As they sprint out of the house, the goblin screeches to a halt when it sees her youngest brother, Rolly, painting the window screen with peanut butter. The goblin stands perfectly still in the garden, impressed by Rolly's mischievous behavior. But when Poppy attempts to grab the creature, it makes a clean getaway.

Poppy sees herself as a scientist, so she sets about recording her observations and setting up a motion-sensor camera to capture the goblin on film. She knows that paranormal work can be dismissed easily; it happens to her parents all the time, whether it's a sighting of UFOs or zombies setting a farmer's cows loose at night. A scientist's theory must have proof to support it, or else it'll go up in smoke.

One day Poppy notices that Rolly is acting strangely. For starters he uses good manners, eats all of his food without complaint, and goes to bed when his mom and dad ask him. It turns out that his body has been taken over by a changeling. Poppy needs to convince Franny and her other brother Will that this indeed is what's happening. They do agree that Rolly has been behaving differently lately, but seriously question Poppy's explanation. Nevertheless, she talks them into helping her, and the hunt to search for their real brother begins. They find themselves in a dark, creepy goblin cave, where they are captured and put in the same prison as Rolly. Can these unfortunate kids outsmart the crafty goblins?

Suzanne Harper creates truly hilarious characters. We see the parents zigzag across the yard holding dowsing rods. Will pretends to go into a trance when he wants to get out of helping. Franny is dying to meet a real vampire. During show-and-tell in kindergarten, Poppy shares a story about seeing a fairy. And a while back, Rolly tries to train ants to walk in formation across the kitchen.

The book's sense of adventure is refreshing, and it's interesting to see the siblings work together to try to break free from the goblins. Those who believe in things like Santa, the Easter bunny, and gold at the end of rainbows may be turned off by the older child characters, who scoff at these ideas. Nevertheless, Suzanne Harper has written a delightful and fun-spirited story.

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Purcell on April 26, 2011

The Unseen World of Poppy Malone: A Gaggle of Goblins
by Suzanne Harper

  • Publication Date: April 26, 2011
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books
  • ISBN-10: 0061996076
  • ISBN-13: 9780061996078